Corrosive Individualism?

Everyone’s seen this argument a million times: “So what’s the problem with libertarianism? The problem is that if you put two groups one against another, the one who is best able to work together will overcome the group of individualists.”

An example would be nice. Here are the major modern wars of necessity (or existential conflicts) the Anglosphere has been involved in (‘win’ here meaning ‘came out on the winning side’ — conniving to get others to do most of the dying is an Anglo-tradition in itself):

English Civil War (1642-1651) — Protestant individualists win.
War of the Spanish Succession (17012-1714) — Protestant individualists win.
Seven Years War (1756-1763) — Protestant individualists win.
American War of Independence (1775-1783) — Protestant individualists win.
Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) — Protestant individualists win.
American Civil War (1861-1865) — Protestant individualists win.
First World War (1914-1918) — Anglophone individualists win.
Second World War (1939-1945) — Anglophone individualists win.
Cold War (1947-1989) — Anglophone individualists win.

Have I missed any big ones? I’m simply not seeing the “history is the graveyard of failed individualist societies” picture that seems to be consolidating itself as a central alt-right myth.

This isn’t a moral thing. I get (without great sympathy) the “organically cohesive societies should win” mantra. If there’s any evidence at all that it’s a judgment endorsed by Gnon, feel free to bring the relevant facts to the comment thread.

ADDED: “It’s complicated.” — You’re saying that now?

November 5, 2015admin 139 Comments »


139 Responses to this entry

  • Corrosive Individualism? | Neoreactive Says:

    […] By admin […]

    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 3:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • Marxist toady Says:

    But, but… that can’t count — they only “won” because they had extra cash and productive capacities, which they only had because they’re lowly merchant scum who don’t understand that war is spiritual and technology is Promethean, opposed to order and therefore anti-spirit. If they had fought like real men, with sword in hand and copies of Evola (make that Carlyle?) in their knapsack, well, well, then you’d see! (Feathery hat — not optional.)


    OLF Reply:

    The Perfect Reactionary


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 4:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • Kwisatz Haderach Says:

    Well, I think it’s simplistic to associate the anglophone-protestant axis with individualism and whoever they were fighting with collectivism.

    For instance, take World War II.

    None of the major participants in that war were individualist societies. All saw themselves as fighting “total war” – meaning among other things that all available production would be requisitioned for State needs and that all available workers would be set to State purposes.

    Take the Wikipedia entry for Total War for the USA in World War II:

    “As the United States began to gear up for a major war, information and propaganda efforts were set in motion. Civilians (including children) were encouraged to take part in fat, grease, and scrap metal collection drives. Many factories making non-essential goods retooled for war production. Levels of industrial productivity previously unheard of were attained during the war; multi-thousand-ton convoy ships were routinely built in a month-and-a-half, and tanks poured out of the former automobile factories. Within a few years of the U.S. entry into the Second World War, nearly every man fit for service, between 18 and 30, had been conscripted into the military “for the duration” of the conflict. Strict systems of rationing of consumer staples were introduced to redirect productive capacity to war needs.
    Previously untouched sections of the nation mobilized for the war effort. Academics became technocrats; home-makers became bomb-makers (massive numbers of women worked in heavy industry during the war); union leaders and businessmen became commanders in the massive armies of production. The great scientific communities of the United States were mobilized as never before, and mathematicians, doctors, engineers, and chemists turned their minds to the problems ahead of them.”


    admin Reply:

    You’re seriously denying that there was a differential tendency to cultural individualism on the Anglophone side? That’s certainly not a contention that would have been shared by the cultural and propaganda organs of the antagonistic powers.


    Kwisatz Haderach Reply:

    No, of course there was and is a difference between those goose-stepping shovelheads and the peace-loving Hobbits of our Shire – praise Gnon. What I’m saying is that, when the time came, the war-winning strategy was not laissez-warfare.

    Society was individualist when there was no existential crisis. Society got collectivist really fast in the face of such a crisis, just as it had many times before and just as it will into the forseeable future.

    I think the issue here is that we don’t actually know what an individualist society fighting a war would even look like. Maybe some Indian Braves yipping and yelping and running up to touch the enemy on the chest with a black feather?

    Perhaps if we had the Patchwork in 1941 they could have formed the United Patchwork Defense Fund, and interested for-profit security forces could have ventured into the European theater to win acclaim and contract extensions?

    Was Rosie the Riveter an individualist or a collectivist? I just don’t think this issue is usefully compressed into Individualism / Collectivism Eternal War of the Soul.


    Grotesque Body Reply:

    The individualist/collectivist distinction is useful in some ways. It’s fairly clear that having the Alan Turings and Richard Feynmans on your side is a massive boost, perhaps a decisive one. I’d say the Carlylean element of NRx (insofar as it extends beyond ‘muh feathery hat’ meme) is validated by this, because it shows that it’s better to have a handful of 150+ IQ individuals than an entire battalion of NSDAP collectivists. Turing’s case is interesting because he was, to use Carlyle’s term, one of the Great Men of history but achieved what he did despite being persecuted and tortured (no pro-LGBT sentiment here, it’s just what happened) by the collective in his own society.

    WWII is closer to a contest between different varieties of collectivism (USA, Third Reich, USSR) but the ‘Eternal War of the Soul’ between the great individuals and the coercive power of collectivist masses, between Lavoisier and Robespierre is very real.

    R. Reply:

    >>Turing’s case is interesting because he was, to use Carlyle’s term, one of the Great Men of history but achieved what he did despite being persecuted and tortured (no pro-LGBT sentiment here, it’s just what happened) by the collective in his own society.<>the Alan Turings and Richard Feynmans on your side is a massive boost<<

    Germans had Heisenberg, Von Braun, etc. The reason they didn't have Jewish talent was not collectivism, but anti-semitism.

    Jews had no problem working for Soviets.

    Erebus Reply:

    I agree. Even before the war, it was the America of the New Deal, and I’m not entirely certain that it was more individualistic than Hirohito’s Japan. It should be noted that Japan has always been naturally conservative, mercantile, and opposed to Communism and other aberrations — that they were daring, heroic, and expansionist when America was suffering through the pathetic New Deal must also be noted.

    The postwar US administration enacted a land reform in 1947-1950 which mandated landlords to sell their farmland to its tenants, which effectively eliminated all large landowners. The breakup of the Zaibatsu, which started in 1946, led to the confiscation of stocks which had belonged to company directors — and in their redistribution to employees! Most importantly, the “progressive” property tax which was enacted in 1946 was extremely punitive with respect to asset-holders and the wealthy.
    …Such “individualistic” government under the thumb of the State Department and the rest of the USG. It was a progressive/leftist nightmare.

    In any case, I think that there are degrees of individualism — that it can be looked upon as a sort of spectrum: Extreme AnCap style libertarianism on the one side, totalitarian paternalistic government on the other. That old argument’s assertion is that the former is not viable; one could also extend it and say that the latter is equally doomed, for precisely the opposite reason.

    …Whether or not this is true is, to the best of my own knowledge, unknown. AnCap-style government, and genuine libertarianism, have never been put to the test. That the Germans lost WWI, and that Napoleon was defeated, seem irrelevant to me.
    With all that said, I believe that libertarianism must, for stability’s sake, be alloyed with some sort of religio — either a religion, or shared traditions which are sincerely respected, or a strong sense of ethnic brotherhood. What is certain is that every heroic society, from Rome to Colonial Britain to the Japanese Empire, has been a society of individualists who shared precisely that sort of bond.


    OLF Reply:

    “Extreme AnCap style libertarianism on the one side, totalitarian paternalistic government on the other.”
    Individualism is as much a lunacy as collectivism (so much so that Murray Rothbard himself considered Objectivism to be a crazy cult). However, I must say that AnCaps aren’t necessarily individualists. In fact, in many cases the opposite is true. Indeed, many AnCaps are only AnCaps because they’re opposed to the state-enforced Anarcho-Tyranny (that’s why so many Alt-Rightists and Neoreactionaries are former AnCaps). So, individualism end of the spectrum would be Objectivism and Anarcho-Individualism, not AnCap. Of course, collectivist end of the spectrum would be Fascism and Communism. I consider all of these ideologies left-wing ideologies (yes, it would be strange to anyone not a reactionary that someone would put Objectivism and Communism, Anarcho-Indibidualism and Fascism in the same basket). Despite me not exactly being a fan, to say the least, of the overused Paleo-Reactionary term “false dichotomy” I think that individualism vs. collectivism is exactly that, as you yourself noticed.


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 4:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • Hurlock Says:

    “But muh reactionary socialism”

    Now look, it is true that groups who are better at working together will outcompete those who are worse at working together. But then you are also right, it was indeed the relatively more individualistic cultures which won all of those conflicts. So how does that happen? The answer is the most obvious one, but almost the most counterintuitive for a lot of people: Individualists are simply better that everyone else at working together.

    This becomes obvious if you study a little economics, or HBD for that matter. The right stuff supposedly knows HBD, yet they are painfully ignorant of what the biggest strength of their own civilization is and always has been. The ignorance is truly mindboggling. Individualist cultures always outperform less-individualist ones for the same reason more free-market capitalist economies outperform less-free and less-capitalist ones.

    The capitalist economy is much more internally competitive than the less-capitalist one. It is an every-man for himself type of world in the economy where everyone strives to perform the best as possible and defeat all of his competitors. But this is all done withing the framework of the market. And the only way to actually be the best and beat all the competitors and secure the most wealth and status for yourself and your children is to be provide a service that other people find valuable. Now, as anyone who has read HBDchick knows, anglos are the most naturally individualistic people there is and their family units are much smaller. And this is key, because cultures and ethnicities with smaller family units always outperform those with larger ones. And the nuclear family is the smaller family unit there can be.

    When you have smaller family units and thus a more individualistic mindset, nepotism and thus corruption will be much less prevalent. It is obvious why individualist people will not engage in nepotism – they do not treat people that are family that much differently than people who are not. Their whole mindset is that they are out for themselves in the world, and this is how they evaluate everyone else – based on their individual merits, not based on which clan they belong to. And this is the definition of meritocracy. In such an individualistic society non-performing members will always be punished economically. Your family ties are irrelevant if you do not perform, you will not be able to survive, or if you are performing poorly you will never gain wealth, status, and will find it harder to support a family.

    Now what about cultures whose people are less individualistic and thus place greater emphasis on family values and family ties. These are the cultures and ethnicities in which the core family unit is larger, bigger than the nuclear family. The core unit here might include everyone till your second cousins. The thing about core family units is that those are the people that each individual looks out for the most. Obviously you will almost never find a person who is so individualistic that he doesn’t have any favoritism towards his wife and kids and parents. Everyone will demonstrate some favoritism towards family members, but in anglo cultures the scope of family favoritism is limited to the maximum, only to the most near family members – your spouse, your parents and you children.

    Going back to the less-individualistic cultures. As I said, the family unit of those is larger (the extended family as it were; sometimes so much larger that we start talking about clans, not just families), precisely because they are less individualistic and place greater emphasis on family ties, and thus the scope of family favoritism is larger. Now, it is pretty self-explanatory that if the scope for family favoritism is larger in the people of a society, the prevalence of nepotism will also be bigger. Where would you say nepotism and corruption are likely to be more prevalent – in a society the members of which show favoritism only to their immediate relatives, or a society the members of which show favoritism even to their more-distantly related relatives? The answer is obvious and self-explanatory.

    Cultures who are less individualistic and have larger family units are also more tribal. And it is tribalism which ruins societies. Because in these more collectivist societies in which the extended family is much more important, you will give a job to your retarded cousin Joe simply because he is family and if you don’t help him out the rest of the family will punish or even ostracize you. And this is the worst that can happen to anyone in a society in which family ties rule the day. Because if your own family cuts ties with you, you are done. No other family will accept you and you can forget about going anywhere but down the social ladder because if you do not have connections it doesn’t matter how smart or talented you are, the dumb cousin Joe will always get a job simply because he does have those family connections. And because there is so much more nepotism in more familial-collectivist societies they tend to do worse economically and consequently be worse in all other respects too, precisely because people are not evaluated primarily based on performance and individual skill and talents, but based on the family ties they have. And thus non-performing individual members are not punished as much, if they are punished at all, and can actually easily survive and even thrive as long as they maintain the right connections in place.

    Now that I have described how these two types of societies work – the individualistic one and the non-individualist/familial-type one, it is pretty obvious why the first in theory and in practice always outcompetes the second. More individualistic societies have always, and always will be, wealthier and stronger than less-individualistic ones precisely for the reasons described above. And finally the individualists will also be better at working together. Why? Well because they are less prejudiced against people who are not part of their family/clan. They are more trusting of other people because they assume they too are individualists and will treat them based on individual evaluation not based on which clan they hail from. While social trust will always be lower in familial type societies and thus they will have a harder time working together, because the most important part about teamwork is trust. Why is it so? Because in a familial-type society everyone knows that what matters first and foremost is the family you are tied to. So you know that he guy coming from another family will not evaluate you on our individual merits and will immediately be more hostile to you, because you belong to a different family and will always favorite people who are less talented and incompetent than you, but are more closely related to him.

    If we go back to the claim “if you put two groups one against another, the one who is best able to work together will overcome the group of individualists.” it is now clear where it goes wrong. It is obvious the society which works together better and in a more efficient manner will beat the one who has a harder time worker together and being as efficient in their teamwork. But what is not as obvious is that it is actually individualists who work together better than everyone else precisely because of their individualistic mentality which makes the society more meritocratic. Finally, what should be obvious is that more meritocratic civilizations will always outperform less-meritocratic ones. And the most individualistic society and its most direct relative the most capitalistic economy, are the building blocks to creating the most meritocratic civilization.

    Why are the guys over at the right stuff so incredibly ignorant of the workings of their own culture and civilization is mind-boggling. It is really a comically sad display to see self-professed anglo “traditionalists” deny and attempt to reject the very core which made the anglo civilization arguably the greatest one to ever exist on this planet. It is almost suspicious to a degree that I am starting to wonder if these guys are not leftist double agents. Even if they are not and are utterly sincere in their fundamentally fallacious claims, I think the leftists will be happy with this either way.


    admin Reply:

    Yes (^n).


    Alrenous Reply:

    If it were just that Joe gets the job, it wouldn’t be a big issue. Not that many retards around.

    But Smarty Pants notices that Joe doesn’t have to do any work, he gets to live of Mr. Pants. The smart thing to do is to also not do any work. The prisoner’s dilemma is reified, and, as soon as it percolates through their thick skulls, nobody does any work, and now not only can’t Joe feed himself, nobody can. Production happens through noise – irrationality, ignorance, mistakes. And thus, the West holds the lives of every Musrabian in their pasty, sweaty palms. Turns out Al-Ghazali was a heretic, and Allah has turns His face from them.


    Bettega Reply:

    There is an exception, though, a tribalistic culture that does well: Jews. Giving the job to cousin Joshua hasn’t caused problems for them.


    Kwisatz Haderach Reply:

    HAH HAH HAH. You make me laugh.


    Y. Ilan Reply:

    We may be tribalistic (at least here in Israel), but we also ruthlessly compete and argue with one another to the point where it is basically a national pastime. Take that as you will.


    Ruco Reply:

    ‘retarded cousin Joe’ Kennedy


    GC Reply:

    When I saw “overcome”, I assumed we were talking about the military, in which case it’s also nonsense. Take a look at North Korea, where military rank is primarily determined by party loyalty rather than their actual ability to lead or fight. This is particularly evident in the air force where the risk of defection is very high.


    ReactionaryFerret Reply:

    God Damn, man. That may be the best thing I’ve ever read.


    Roger u Reply:

    Of course the Jews are less individualistic than Europeans and they are out performing us despite being a microscopically small percentage of world population. They have higher average IQs than we do as we have higher average IQs than just about everybody else so maybe its the merits of the people rather than where they are on the individual-collective scale?

    That said, there is no free market economy. Communism may be a command economy absolutely controlled by the government, but the US practiced protectionism until just before WWII and crony capitalism with Keynesian economics since.

    Quality people can make anything work.

    ‘No other family will accept you and you can forget about going anywhere but down the social ladder because if you do not have connections it doesn’t matter how smart or talented you are’

    This is always the case, even in a full libertarian society connections will matter more than merit. people hire friends and family, its human nature to prefer those who’s company you prefer. In a non clan society, your ability to make connections depends on where your personality is on the introvert-extrovert scale while in clan based societies, you already have connections. This implies that the clan based society would be better for introverts while the more individualist society favors the extrovert. This is indeed what we see in the US where gregarious and charismatic people get the opportunities.

    ‘It is obvious the society which works together better and in a more efficient manner will beat the one who has a harder time worker together and being as efficient in their teamwork. But what is not as obvious is that it is actually individualists who work together better than everyone else precisely because of their individualistic mentality which makes the society more meritocratic.’

    individuals may be better able to work together when each individual’s interest coincide, but the weakness is the preference for the individual’s best interest over the group’s which allows for entry by outsiders, since the barriers to entry are essentially sales ability; switching sides to another individualist group since acceptance is open or even outright betrayal for profit. Not that these things never happen in less individualistic societies!

    Its really a useless debate that leads to one size fits all solutions if you’re not careful; too much of either is bad and neither is perfect for all situations.


    TheDividualist Reply:

    This really deserves more than a comment box, a really good analysis although I think it it has several flaws.

    The problem is you equate the natural unit – the family – with corruption and nepotism. But that sort of thing is very often just done with friends. And individualistic Anglo societies are actually pretty likely to form such non-related nepotism networks, Old Boys Networks, Skulls and Crossbones and that kind of thing, the whole university fraternity thing even, all based on friendship, not blood, but the same kind of effect. Add concepts like the traditional British idea of the club, the high level of religiosity in America where members of a congregation form an old boys network and you quickly find it is all there, just not necessarily based on relation by blood.

    Another problem is that nepotism in the family may not be so bad because the most important traits are hereditary, if 100 people are 150IQ CEOs and each hire their nephews, you would expect the average IQ of the nephews to be well over 100. The flip side of meritocracy is that testing itself has a cost, you can’t try out a million people at a job just to get the best candidate, you try to narrow the pool somehow, and the idea that if I and my bro have both good businesses sense because we inherited it from dad and my bro has a son, well let’s try him in the job first, is not an irrational one. This is why I often find aristocracy more rational than meritocracy: it’s like racehorses, you don’t test those kinds of horses who are the descendants of rural workhorses on the racetrack, you only test those racehorses whose parents and grandparents are racehorses. Limiting testing by pedigree is the essence of aristocracy or a sensible kind of nepotism.


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 4:23 pm Reply | Quote
  • Jefferson Says:

    “Getting others to do the dying” is the hypothesis being proven, from my perspective (something something the Jooooos?). Starting with the American Revolution (English Whigs getting colonists to die for them), Napoleon (French conscripts destroying the HRE, Italian city States, and France, then having Russian peasants/winter kill French conscripts), American Civil war (conscripted immigrants killing confederates), WWI (everybody lost), WWII (Communism won), cold war (everybody lost), the individualist side won until it put its boots on the ground (WWI), after which everybody lost (TFR starts spiraling, Empire falls apart, etc.). It’s hard to view individualists as winners if they won’t be around in another generation or two. Gnon requires intergenerational transfer of culture; individualism seems to encourage cultural death.


    admin Reply:

    If the “individualists lose” club are entirely giving up on historical evidence — and resorting to “just you wait and see” — then in all honesty they should change their rhetoric, which is presently strongly based on a completely unsubstantiated “history clearly shows” implication.


    Jefferson Reply:

    I’m being unclear, I think. We’re in agreement that the west is dying from not enough individualism (right?), and clearly we got here from somewhere. I’m not sure you can look at history and say individualists just keep winning and still end up where we are intellectually.


    admin Reply:

    Oh, I’m sure we can’t just say that.


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 4:24 pm Reply | Quote
  • GC Says:

    Individualism doesn’t oppose working together for a common good. This is a common misconception.


    Alrenous Reply:

    Indeed, though it’s worth going in depth.


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 4:30 pm Reply | Quote
  • Mark Citadel Says:

    I’m not sure I understand this. You’re taking conflicts that range from 1642 -1989, roughly the ‘Enlightened’ era where individualist societies emerged and of course became economically powerful as the world switched over in geographic succession to consumer capitalism. And yes, in every instance, the individualist societies won, though in many cases due to specific military reasons.

    But, isn’t this just the entire reason we are living in the ‘Iron Age’. Things are the way they are precisely because of these victories (well, most of them), and the conflicts mark a successive ratcheting where Modernity has reigned triumphant. Expected, predicted, loathed by many, but the question is how long does Rome last? How long is this age?

    If Modernity is destroyed, and entropy seems to suggest so much (look at Europe), then it seems that ‘Gnon’ has finally had enough.


    admin Reply:

    So “just you wait and see”?


    Mark Citadel Reply:

    There seem to exist good reasons to be optimistic, more-so now than even just five years ago it seems. My advocacy has always been that the kind of society Libertarians want at the human level, that is without much state intervention in people’s lives, is best achievable through the traditional model. I don’t think general liberty and Traditional authoritarianism conflict at all.


    admin Reply:

    So what do you make of the TRS argument that individualism is a (demonstrated) failure mode? To me, it looks like sheer garbage (however understandable the path to it might be). If NRx isn’t unconditionally fact-oriented, I’m not sure why it isn’t just another ideological life-style option.

    Mark Citadel Reply:

    The article itself is not well-structured and wildly infers things without making a good case for connection.

    This said, I think people like Jared Taylor are right in pointing out that whites especially have lost to individualism a sense of kinship that was present in past societies. This doesn’t inhibit our ability to be prosperous, stable, and indeed win conflicts in the short term, but over time we are falling victim to groups we refuse to exclude because we don’t think in ‘group’ terms. We like to judge people as individuals, which is why we cannot close any borders down because we cannot bring ourselves to make a blanket statement “Africans and Afghans coming to Germany is a bad thing”

    And this goes part way to explaining why countries who have so many things going for them are signing their own death warrants. Individualism comes in varying degrees and is not applied universally, the question is where is the right balance between the self and the group. Libertarians argue the group is inherently threatening to liberty. Totalitarians argue the individual is inherently threatening to stability. It’s like straying from different sides of the same road.

    Depending on the circumstance, individualism can be incredibly useful as it takes unnecessary burdens off of the group. In other cases, it is better that the individual submit to the will of the group regardless of his personal feeling. I definitely would not use any contemporary Western states as a model, but nor would I use Mussolini’s Italy.

    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 4:33 pm Reply | Quote
  • Abelard Lindsey Says:

    The author of this blog, like most other conservatives, misunderstands individualism. Individualism is not just the stereotype of the loner living in a mountain cabin all on his own. Libertarianism is about individuals cooperating and working together to accomplish commonly held goals. The relationships are freely entered into by the participating individuals. It is coercion that is not acceptable to libertarians like myself.


    admin Reply:

    If you think I’m attacking individualism, could you please pass that on to the rest of the reactosphere, and I’ll get some kind of merit badge.


    Abelard Lindsey Reply:

    You’re right. My reading comprehension was bad. Now that I’ve had my morning coffee, I see what you are saying. Thanks.


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 4:36 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    Debatable about the more “individualistic” side in the US Civil War. On the cocktail napkin, that honor would seem to go to the Seceders.

    Also debatable that anglophones won WW2. The Soviets (a communitarian offshot of the… wait for it… the Anglosphere) did.

    That said, I think reduction of the argument to individualism vs. collectivism, or out-breeding versus in-breeding misses the mark. (Not that admin would be so silly to do that.)

    The winners of various conflicts have a _well-calibrated_ individualism-v-collectivism module. Breathless libertardianism seems to recognize no end to the benefits of individual choice; breathless anti-libertardianism matches the position in the opposite direction.


    admin Reply:

    Yankees are more Protestant-individualist that Rebs, surely? (I’m a secessionist, this isn’t some kind of moral test.)
    America won WWII.
    The “individualism” topic doesn’t begin here, it begins with a silly — i.e. completely empirically-unsubstantiated — alt-right meme.
    Libertarianism has huge problems, but we can surely shelve them for the duration of a single post. (I promise to do some compensatory bashing in that direction soon, it’s not as if this blog hasn’t done so before).
    Look — fundamental consideration here, is that the “individualism kills” mantra is reaching the levels of a Hare Krishna chant. There’s no evidence for it. If the reactosphere wants to become a bizarro counter-factual moral cult, then sure, bye bye, but I don’t see any sign that it’s admitting to its own submission to empty wishful thinking on this point. If reality is simply wrong is where it wants to go, then its time for realists to get off the bus.


    Warg Franklin Reply:

    Individualism kills if your enemy is all up in your shit using parasitical and cancerous tactics where you are using individual and you are no longer backed by the state in that conflict. This is the modern situation.

    The historical situation was that the individualist was backed by the state within his society, so he beat the near tribalist. And obviously a state built on individualist high-trust market cooperation will wreck a pile of conspiracies that can’t even cooperate amongst each other.


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 5:05 pm Reply | Quote
  • Devalier Says:

    It is clear that market economies lead to more wealth creation than command-and-control economies. It is clear that the Anglo/European ability to deal fairly with non-kin based on contracts and promises, settled in a non-kin court, helped Anglos become very wealthy and successful. It is clear that having children raised by family and by local churches and schools, is much more healthy than having children raised by the state. On this latter point though, I’m not sure I call this individualist. The left-liberal claim for state schooling was that it would break the power of the patriarchy/church etc, and free the individual to be fully autonomous.

    I think most debates about individualism end up being nonsense, a waste of time, because there is a false framing of the debate. Humans are social creatures, and so community power always exists in one way or another. The real question is who whom. Does the state rule over the person, or the family? or the tribe? the township? the church? the employer? the feudal lord? The only case of pure individualism would be a frontier homesteader, which is a very, very rare thing in history.

    I’d also note that in the examples you give, the victorious “individualists” trammeled upon all their supposed principles in order to repress speech, create nationalistic cults, centralize power, put planners in charge, institute mass indoctrination, etc, etc. The whole democracy/individualism versus tyranny was just war propaganda that you seem to have bought hook, line and sinker.

    I mean, did you even freaking read your Moldbug? Did you read Fisher about the American revolution? The so-called freedom-fighting patriots were ten times as oppressive toward loyalists as the British ever were to the Americans. They were silenced, beaten, harassed, and tens of thousands were driven from their homes. Did you read Rothbard’s essay Power and the Intellectuals? Mills on World War I? Michael Jones about the WASP establishment in the 30’s through the 50’s. Calling these wars a victory for libertarian ideology is completely historically ignorant.


    admin Reply:

    “Calling these wars a victory for libertarian ideology is completely historically ignorant.” [*facepalm*]

    This two-front war nightmare isn’t any fun at all.

    Look, I’m sorry, but I’m arguing right now with a bunch of fascist lunatics. Can you libertarian types please come back later, when I’m arguing with you?


    Warg Franklin Reply:

    If you want the fascists to leave, you’ll have to ban us.


    Hurlock Reply:

    I have been asking him to do so for a long time now.

    Devalier Reply:

    I’m not a libertarian, I’m more moldbuggian.

    I’m just saying it is a stretch to frame something like World War I or II as a victory for an “individualist” side when the leadership specifically created a massive, collectivist cult of nation in order to win the war. It doesn’t make sense to call the English Civil War a victory for individualists when the victors were crazy cultists who freaking tried to ban Christmas. What happens is that the leaders on the “individualist” side who are true believers in individualism get outmaneuvered by opportunists, who then take hold of the levers of power to use for their own messianic purposes.

    That said, we just need to strike the word individualism from the conversation, because there are a bunch of different phenomena we could be talking about and I think most of these phenomena are orthogonal to each other (strength of family versus individual ability to strike out their own; individual versus community busy bodies; strength of church versus strength of person; deference of worker to hierarchy versus willingness to challenge the boss; “independence” in the modern sense versus “independence” in the 18th century usage; cult of nation versus apathy to the nation; meddling of the state versus wu wei, indoctrination and allegiance to the idea of civic culture versus looking out for oneself).


    admin Reply:

    “Individualism kills”
    “Does it, really, though?”
    “We need to strike the word individualism from the conversation.”

    Devalier Reply:

    Individualism was not my word, TRS framed this debate in the wrong way. But I think if you steel man their argument they have a point.

    To echo Erebus above, a nation needs religio, as he put it, ” a religion, or shared traditions which are sincerely respected, or a strong sense of ethnic brotherhood. What is certain is that every heroic society, from Rome to Colonial Britain to the Japanese Empire, has been a society of individualists who shared precisely that sort of bond.”

    America and England were traditionally individualist in a few of the senses that I described above — such as the ability of an individual to go forth out independently of his family. But they had very strong religio. There was a strong indoctrination and socialization into a shared civic culture. This aspect of religio tends to be ignored by the libertarians, which is what I think TRS was criticizing. If the claim is, “lack of religio” kills, then I think their case becomes a lot stronger.

    admin Reply:

    Why steelman a garbage argument? This “OK, sure, it’s totally retarded, but it’s our kind of retarded” nonsense is the methamphetamine of stupid.

    “No enemies on the right!” even when they’re drooling on your socks.

    Aeroguy Reply:

    Another way to think of religio is an immune system, to protect the market and individualism. We see what happens when there isn’t an immune system to keep the bad elements (cancerous progs and parasitical tribes) out, it becomes modernity. There are different formulations for how to get an immune system (it can itself be a decentralized distributed network like markets), but they’re essential or else your system is literally by definition, pozzed.

    However an immune system isn’t collectivist so much as it’s an additional layer of complexity weaved into the system. It’s worthless without an individualist market to protect. Markets are engines that produce enormous amounts of order, some of that order has to be dedicated to feeding the immune system to protect both creator of order and the order itself from parasites and cancers that can grow from feeding on that order. It’s not fascist since the market and individualism are part of that engine and thus essential, fascism uses cartels to destroy the decentralized distributed network effects of the market and eliminate entrepreneurialism.

    Better hope your system creates order for the sake of increasing order for maximizing long term production of entropy (aline with the 2nd law of thermodynamics, responsible for the arrow of time and buildup of all complexity in the cosmos, Gnon’s right hand from which dire consequences are dealt), not for the sake of making any particular subsystems fat by overfeeding on the order as if the order was being produced for it’s own benefit, that would be cancer, something a healthy immune system would target for purging, otherwise Gnon purges the whole system.

    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 5:13 pm Reply | Quote
  • Mosca Says:

    Two thoughts –

    1. Protestant/Anglosphere individualism has created a world in which its values have spread, and in which it retains the upper hand. There might have been a different end to the Cold War if the people of the Soviet bloc did not want to become part of that world, and no Soviet leader could ever rise to the level of a Lycurgus and create a way of life that could resist the temptations of bourgeois comfort.

    2. The force that provided Protestant/Anglosphere individualism with much of its social cohesion – the Christian faith – has waned, which means that it has “become” itself, a homogeneous individualism deprived of heterogeneous elements that were decisive for its success. The sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s marks an irreversible turning point.

    Homogeneous individualism might still have a missionary spirit, but it chafes at the prospect of undertaking anything difficult or uncomfortable. The well-being of the Anglosphere depends on whether its most capable citizens know better than to pursue and cultivate the freedoms it proclaims as good to the majority.


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 5:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • TheDividualist Says:

    Because the whole thing is oversimplified.

    Many societies that look very hierarchical and collective are in fact anarchic in spirit. Germany had huge revolutions. So had China. Spain needed a Franco BECAUSE they were not good at working together, read this one, Nick:

    What is the evidence that Anglos or Protestants are so bad at cooperating? What if this individualism is just a myth? Moldbug showed how Protestantism can still cooperate very well without much leadership by everybody being educated in the same ideas. What if they were very, very good at the more voluntary kinds of cooperation? If cooperation requires low time preferences and patriotism, there was enough of both.

    I think, Nick, it is a useless model. You cannot really define whole countries and religions as individualistic or collectivistic. It is often so that people are allowed freedom because they are good at voluntary working together, or need a bit of tyranny because they are bad at it.

    It is not difficult to figure that the typical solution for the Tragedy of Commons is some sort of a strong-arm enforcer (when privatization is not really possible), and basically the better people are at NOT listening to bad incentives and still behaving in a cooperative way, the least of this they need.

    So basically maybe every society has the same sum of voluntary and involuntary cooperation. Maybe this is close to a conservation law.


    TheDividualist Reply:

    Actually the idea that the sum of involuntary and voluntary cooperation in succesful cultures roughly constant makes sense to me. Societies that have too low co-op get outcompeted. To high level does not really happen voluntarily and if involuntary leads to revolutions. The long-term fit society takes its level of voluntary co-op as an input, whether they are calm, bit boring, easily going along Englishmen or fiery, passionate, Spaniards who always disagree, and heaps just about as much coercion on it to reach the ideal coop level balance. If you only look at the involuntary part, you get mistaken about the total level.


    admin Reply:

    “So basically maybe every society has the same sum of voluntary and involuntary cooperation.” — Is this an HBD-compatible proposition? In particular, is it HBD-Chick (Hajnal-line) compatible?


    TheDividualist Reply:

    Very much. If there is any truth in it, that must come from there as it is difficult to see a purely cultural basis for voluntary co-op or not. The Hajnal Line tends to separate individualist and collectivist cultures. Spain, Russia authoritarian because inherently anarchic. Tribalism is anarchic, cannot trust people who are not related, outgroup marriage builds generic social trust hence cooperation.

    Countries like Jordan who are tribal to this day tend to be really authoritarian.

    In the Anglosphere, an interesting exception maybe the somewhat more chaotic nature of “rednecks” (Dixie Scots-Irish). I remember they had clan feuds, Hatfield-McCoy. The very fact of “clans” existing, extended families, doesn’t that point towards more ingroup marriage? I mean, they were west enough of the HL but maybe made a partial reversal? I mean, the most common insult for “rednecks” is “inbred”, which says a lot about both the culture that uses this insult and of themselves. So when a subset of Anglo culture becomes more inbred, it also becomes more chaotic. Interesting, isn’t it? But it did not lead to more authoritarianism, it led to more demands for freedom so somewhat an exception. But again their libertarianism is more like “washington yankees fuck off”.

    What would be good test cases? Scandinavia is on many accounts tending towards libertarian attitudes, not the tax levels of course, but everything from charter schools to being able to regulate the use of forests in 8 pages. It is a fairly complicated situation. Taleb explained well in Anti-Fragile how Denmark is actually not too centralized.


    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    “Freedom for ME” and “Freedom for US” are very, very different things politically speaking. Only one strikes me as being individualistic, and probably almost always pathological.

    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 5:18 pm Reply | Quote
  • Orthodox Says:

    They’re not talking about a game where you pit one tribe against another. The argument is that you are mixing the two tribes together, and one side is playing by the rules and the other is not. There are lots of examples, going back to the Irish taking over the police force and creating political machines, to the rise of Italian organized crime, to Jewish dominance in media and banking. These are people using a group strategy within a society that doesn’t punish them (anymore) from deviating from the individualist norms.

    The collectivists cannot win against individualists in a straight up fight as the war list shows. The only way they win is to subvert the individualists to the point where the individualist is isolated and unable to form a cohesive group. Imagine a fighting competition where there are 100 people and everyone is told you must fight as an individual. Now imagine 5 or 10 people agree to cheat and to work as a group, protecting each other and picking off the individualists one by one. Now imagine the other 90 people, or even just 30 of them, realize this is going on and kick the cheaters out. For the 90 to work together though, the must overcome the charge that they are behaving as collectivists and betraying their individualist values. When in fact, they are preserving an individualist society by purging cheaters.


    TheDividualist Reply:

    This is, I am afraid, completely wrong. Collectivism in general means FORCED cooperation. Individualism means you may or may not cooperate on an voluntary basis.

    This is seriously a silly debate, the whole one, not just you until one doesn’t differentiate between voluntary cooperation and enforced one. Some individualists can of course work together, just don’t like being forced to. Some other individualists not.

    It is perfectly possible that 100 individualist farmers cooperate voluntarily and fight with vigor because they protect their private property and way of living, while 100 slaves who are forced to fight by Xerxes have low morale because they only fight because forced, and break morale and rout more easier.

    It is also perfectly possible that the individualist side is 100 special snowflakes who think someone else should die in the front lines, and the collectivist side is either a voluntary cooperating tribe with high morale or a bunch of Unsullied trained into being killing machines by the most brutal collectivist repression possible, and of course the second win.

    Bonus fun: if everyone is told to fight as an individual, the individualist is more likely to break that rule and voluntarily cooperate, than the enforced collectivist who was brutally trained and dressed to obey all orders ever or else, so he fears breaking the rule and fights as an individual…


    Orthodox Reply:

    If you try to open a company as a white man and hire only the best people, you could be sued or harassed into submission if your company ends up filled with white and Asian males. If you are a minority, you can force others to cooperate with you using the law, or you can engage in a tribal strategy while using the law to deny whites the same ability.

    The example was only meant to simplify, but there are tons of examples in the real world of this taking place from university admissions to hiring.

    The Myth of American Meritocracy

    “Different political blocs waged long battles for control of particular universities, and sudden large shifts in admissions rates occurred as these groups gained or lost influence within the university apparatus: Yale replaced its admissions staff in 1965 and the following year Jewish numbers nearly doubled.”


    TheDividualist Reply:

    But I thought we aren’t optimizing for optimally dealing with dyscivi insanity? This crap needs to collapse, and then a sane society can be built where people don’t even think like this.

    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 5:31 pm Reply | Quote
  • Anomaly UK Says:

    I certainly would not argue that collectivist societies beat individualist societies–very much the reverse, in line with admin’s examples.

    The problem with individualism is that individualist societies get taken over from within by collectivists. Individualists win at economic/military competition but lose at political competition.

    The reason that that is not as obvious from history as the inter-society comparison is that historically individualist societies have been tempered by a healthy dose of practicality–usually an unprincipled exception at a deep goes-without-saying level in favour of a particular social/ethnic/cultural subgroup.

    That is the best of both worlds; power held but largely not exercised by a ruling class that encourages individualism so long as its own position is preserved.

    The modern combination of an ethos of individualism with unrestricted political action by “outsider” collectivist subcultures is exceptional, and certain to be short-lived.


    Jack Reply:

    “The problem with individualism is that individualist societies get taken over from within by collectivists.”

    Is it so? Which collectivist bunch has taken over an individualist society, besides the Ashkenazim who just coincidentally happen to have high verbal IQ? I keep seeing this “low trust groups prosper in high trust societies” meme, but is there any evidence?

    Of course it would make sense that a psychopath operating among normies will get ahead due to Machiavellianism and parasitism, but what works for individuals doesn’t necessarily work for groups – evidence is needed here.


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 6:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • SVErshov Says:

    Have I missed any big ones?

    Nepal war 2 mln dead (1955-1965) Anglophone individualists lost


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 6:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • Corrosive Individualism? | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 7:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • Warg Franklin Says:

    Individualism/Collectivism is a false dichotomy. Anglosphere has always been individualist-collectivist.

    In individualist-collectivist societies, individuals and small extended families cooperate freely and create massive wealth and power for the state. But this needs to be secured against cancerous and parasitical conspiracy, so they have to be harsh on crime, heresy, and conspiracy. It is individualist in that englishmen don’t see themselves as members of some subtribe, they just cooperate with everyone (who is available to cooperate with). It is collectivist in that it’s like a complex multiscellular organism with an immune system that stamps out cancer and parasites and allows the units to be naively trusting.

    Tribalist societies are those where there is no top-level immune system as such, and subconspiracies run wild.

    Obviously individualist-collectivist is going to beat tribalist unless, as we’re seeing now, the former forfeits its immune system and becomes overrun with tribal conspiracies.

    You all need to stop trying to use the strength of individualist societies as an argument for deconstructing all social order. It is the social order that allows individualism to work and produce good things.


    admin Reply:

    The level of fact-free, a prioristic argument presently characterizing NRx makes the Mises Institute look like a bunch of rat-slicers by comparison. Sure, what you assert might be true, but don’t you think at least a vague hand wave in the direction of evidential support would help?


    Warg Franklin Reply:

    Theory is easy, evidence is hard. Of course you are right, and we should be bringing in more evidence, but this “individualism” conversation started pretty recently and it takes a long time to dig up the evidence.

    I’m not appealing to evidence here, but this idea didn’t come from nowhere. I’m summarizing my impression of evidence that does exist. It would be good to figure out which bits are relevant and refer to them explicitly, but don’t expect well cited treatises in a comment section.

    Thanks for the reminder, I will try to find some good stuff.


    vxxc2014 Reply:


    I’ve been saying our Laws have become an immuno virus for some time now.

    Good points all around Orthodox.


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 7:56 pm Reply | Quote
  • A.B Prosper Says:

    The US under FDR was a collectivist endeavor, its citizens may have harbored ideas of individualism, maybe, but rationing and conscription and the pervasive church based social control that existed than, not to mention the outright ethnic discrimination are not individualistic. Authoritarian vs Totalitarian.

    Cromwell and his lot weren’t freedom loving individualists either , they shifted power to different institutions but not the individual. Taking power from a Monarch to Parliament and Guilds isn’t individualistic.

    The winners in the 1st World War actually started the mass growth of the state via a permanent income tax and the growth of the regulatory state at that time. So, practically, not individualists either.

    I’d day the core idea is outright wrong and that Warg has it right in a very succinct and manner.


    admin Reply:



    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 8:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • nemo Says:

    Outside the Hajnal line there are still individualists, it is just that the unit is a “person” or a “family” rather than an “individual ego”. The problem is individualists without an effective state just compete for resources rioting the commons. They are “locked in” in a less efficient equilibrium (Italy, Greece, Balkans). Individualism inside the Hajnal line was enforced by the Catholic Church because order (and civilization) in the Western Roman Empire had collapsed totally and had to be “internalized”. Outside and Inside the Hajnal Line we see two variations of individualistic societies having formed different institutions and behaviours due to path dependency.

    Collectivism is something different than tribalism. Of course individualistic societies can be collectivists, maybe only they can, because the collective is an abstraction, family ties and blood relations are to concrete and can not be thought of in abstract terms as “the collective”…..that is just obscured by the fact that many tribal societies transitioned to modernity with help of the collectivist politics (prussia, russia, china etc). So collectivism tries to achieve consciously what proper individualism achieved organically.

    So collectivism is an individualistic tendency.

    No question individualism, even in collectivist form, is more efficient than tribalism….but that statement is very close to progressivism.


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 10:22 pm Reply | Quote
  • Barnabas Says:

    Too much of a good thing can kill you. What’s so hard to understand about that?


    Grotesque Body Reply:

    It’s not hard to understand but we don’t bother because it’s almost a tautology: ‘too much’ of anything can kill you, that’s why it’s ‘too much’. There’s a Fry and Laurie sketch that makes the same point more succinctly but I can’t find it.


    ashv Reply:

    “Too much is precisely that quantity which is excessive! That’s what it’s means!”


    Grotesque Body Reply:

    Thank you.

    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 10:31 pm Reply | Quote
  • vxxc2014 Says:

    We’re not being men and defending ourselves and what’s ours.

    That’s basic to survival and prosperity and that’s all.


    Posted on November 5th, 2015 at 11:58 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    Tin man or Sturgeon man position. Emotional vs. philosophical individualism. Also coercion blindness.

    Philosophically, collectivism is a subset of individualism. In practice it is individualism plus some lies to keep the plebs in line. “Shams may cease” etc.

    Emotional individualism is, “You can’t tell me what to do, man,” often amusingly said by people who also say, “You aren’t my real dad.”

    Philosophical Individualism is about who gets to decide what group you’re part of. It is a single facet of Exit. I guess I should do a post about this too.

    Above, I see a lot of argument about historical situations of various shades of collectivism. However, this is not an analytically difficult situation. With “shams may cease” I can easily determine the ideal society. Which is an individualism that many above would confuse with collectivism. Hence the need for philosophy prior to evidence, lest evidence only confuse us further. (Ref?: metaphysics.)

    Philosophical individualism It is not about eschewing groups, not about avoiding hierarchy (logically impossible to combine groups and non-hierarchy) it is about not pretending some people get to be individuals and others don’t. It is about voluntary group membership instead of coerced group membership, and applying blame to the guilty instead of the convenient.

    The coercion blindness causes the sufferer to see a false dichotomy: force people to stay in groups, or force people to stay out of groups. It is difficult for the coercion blind to see the coercion, typically due to psychological damage and cognitive dissonance. It seems to be natural to them, as if I were saying gravity coerces you to not fly. As if the patriarch (see below) has no choice but to dictate the life path of little Timmy.

    Collectivism is the case where certain individuals can choose their group memberships and others aren’t supposed to. It is the case where some can pick their own responsibilities and duties and others are punished for trying it. There is no such thing as real collectivism: only more or less limited individualism.

    Stupid example: ideal absolute monarchy. The monarch has full individualism, everyone else doesn’t. It’s not collectivism, it’s just saying only kings are people, which is simply incorrect.

    Prototypical collectivism is the family. Membership is determined by birth, not the member. Reputation is similarly shared, as a fact of human habit.
    However, it’s not really determined by birth. Algorithms have no power, only Man. (Ref: rule of law, though caveats apply.) Typically the father determines membership, via disownership. More generally the patriarch. Indeed, we could perhaps say the patriarch is defined by who chooses membership for the family, in which case, at present, USG is every family’s patriarch.

    First sham, membership: the patriarch invokes collectivism, in one form or another, to legitimize their claim of ownership, disownership, punishment, etc. The patriarch is not a collective. The patriarch is an individual. As a result, public choice theorem applies: the family will be run for the benefit of the patriarch, not the family. The clearheaded philosopher recognizes the patriarch’s justification as being the self-condemnation it really is. It is a refutation of their good-faith claims: if the rule is so benevolent, why do they need to punish would-be lone wolves? Shouldn’t Gnon be punishing them through withdrawal of benefits?

    Both novels and science are clear: you don’t get disowned for threatening or harming the family. You get disowned for threatening your dad’s vainglorious pride. Endless infighting is tolerated, unless it ‘challenges’ the so-called ‘authority.’ Doubtless someone will object, and I’ll have to point out it’s a coincidence, when they happen to align.

    Second sham: responsibility. Collective responsibility isn’t. A healthy society unifies physical and social responsibility, for the same public-choice reasons. If little Timmy’s theft could in fact have been prevented by Auntie Joanne, then it is reasonable to spread some blame to Joanne. The point of blame is punishment, and the point of punishment is not justice, per se, the point is to cooperate. To deter. Punishing Joanne for Timmy’s crimes can’t deter Timmy if Joanne has no responsibility. All it does is discourage responsibility. Do Muslims seem like responsible people to you? If you’re gonna do the time anyway, do the crime, etc.

    Supposedly one punishes Patriarch Patrick, who punishes Timmy in turn. The law having much less idea who is responsible than the family. In practice, this does not occur. If little Sally is cute and adorable, she can pin everything on Timmy. In practice, public choice: arbitrary power is abuse. Not abused, it is inherently abuse. Scapegoats. Etc. It is, as per public choice, worse than no punishment at all, for the purposes of civic virtue.

    I mean, duh, the group that tries to stop you from leaving through violence is a parasite. (As opposed to words or enticements.) On average those who want to leave will be paying more than they’re getting back, that’s why they want out. While of course the group wants them to stay, because it’s getting more out of them than it gives, that’s not what cooperation is about. Cooperation is about us both getting more together than we would have apart. The Collective is a parasite that realizes it cannot survive without the host. This will tend to escalate to total war, for reasons that you can work out on your own.

    If you’re not allowed to force people to stay, you have an individualist culture. It results in stronger groups, because they have to actually be cooperative groups instead of parasites.

    Long-term collectivisms get a pathology where even the patriarchs are raised to obey rather than think, can’t in fact lead, and you have a society chasing its own tail (and sociopaths) rather than paying any tribute to Gnon. All host and only opportunistic parasites – everyone pays in, and nobody cashes out. You can see this, “Ask what you can do for your country.” That’s parasitism at best, not cooperation. Americans for the most part serve the economy, which, in turn, for the most part, serves nobody. Good work chuckleheads.

    As long as Exit obtains, individualism does not condemn any group. Even voluntary, non-hereditary slavery is fine. Opt-in = Exit. If you can do individualist slavery, you can do any strongly-bound group you can think of….except the parasites. Which of course is the point for most politicians, so they can’t argue in good faith.


    Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 1:35 am Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    According to Hanson, Western values such as political freedom, capitalism, individualism, democracy, scientific inquiry, rationalism, and open debate form an especially lethal combination when applied to warfare.

    With the exception of democracy, he is correct. Basically, philosophy kills. Bad philosophy kills your own side.


    Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 2:05 am Reply | Quote
  • Contaminated NEET Says:

    Individualist Athens lot to collectivist Sparta.


    Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 2:27 am Reply | Quote
  • Joseph sans Brothers Says:

    I’d bet that the average adherent of these noted antiliberal altruists-collectivists (

    is far outbreeding every one of you.


    Dark Psy-Ops Reply:

    Eventually, sir, all humans will be extinct. I’m sorry I had to be the one to tell you.


    Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 3:43 am Reply | Quote
  • Izak Says:

    When people talk about how “individualism kills,” aren’t they talking about social atomization, lack of civic trust, no real common morality, community, etc., that sort of thing? The byproducts of it as a functional ideology?

    Or are you seriously just attacking an article from

    When “individualism” has worked, it has been because everyone shared the same basic morality, and they believed in it strongly, to a fanatical degree. When they stopped existing in the world as a moral collective, they stopped winning.

    Or are you really assuming that Mr. Whozit from TRS is really going out of his way to promote K-selected societies at the expense of r-selected ones? Or socialism at the expense of capitalism?

    Sorry, but this really is a “moral thing.” The delusions that these Anglos collectively shared and opposed to the rest of the world propelled them to great heights and victories, and I indulge in the products of those victories every day. (Hell, I just listened to a wonderful double concerto for harpsichord by Elliott Carter. Now, there’s a real Mensch — a real Anglo degenerate! The WNs would assume he’s a Jew instantly.)

    The total lack of conviction underlining the individualist mindset is what is causing its failure, and the erosion of classical liberalism starting in the 50s (or so) has not been pretty. It isn’t that libertarianism is wrong. It isn’t that individualism is wrong, either. But as conceptual arrangements that form the basis of society, they just don’t have punching power. And they certainly don’t have any steam left that I can see.

    My main problem with the line of thinking in the OP is that it sees every Anglo victory through a teleological lens, as though it was all just a long, silly preamble for the glorious introduction of these things called “individualism” and “libertarianism.” Individualism and libertarianism aren’t concepts that herald anything new and wonderful. They’re signs of decay and death — not unlike how the “Ciceronian Latin” introduced during the Renaissance marked the death of the Latin language, by ossifying it and freezing it in place.

    “Individualism” emerged in the mid-19th century, and “libertarianism” the way we think of it is pretty damn new. As concepts, they’re ways that we try to look back and make connections draw observations about Western (mostly English) civilization. None of the groups cited in the OP from before the 20th century would see themselves in that way we see them. Yes, the Puritans in the English Civil War realized that liberty is great, and yes, they realized that individuals are capable of amazing feats, but they would never take one or both of these observations and use them as the foundation for their whole way of existing. They would see such an idea as wholly degenerate. They believed in God.


    Dark Psy-Ops Reply:

    The point I’d like to see discussed with more depth is whether there could be a common morality that is beneficial to all members of a group (with perhaps one or two marginal examples of lowered fitness), or, conversely, if there exists diversity between individuals such as to limit morality to a local domain. TRS piece talks about ‘organic moral hierarchy’ and if that’s a clear concept to others here I haven’t seen anyone explain it, beyond ‘whatever wins is moral’, which returns us to realpolitik very rapidly. Yet perhaps winning the moral high ground is what Machiavellian analysis is all about? Ah yes, the social prestige that comes with tearing away the illusions of prestige engines! Not that I’m complaining, Social Darwinism makes a fine universal moral code, and the fact that our survival is on the line would make us want to think hard on our choices, presuming individual choice is still a workable concept for right-wing cattle.


    Izak Reply:

    Social Darwinism doesn’t work as a moral code. The admin of this site is Social Darwinist. The current people in power would think he’s a horrible piece of scum, or something. So what can one do in that situation? Write a couple dozen doomsday pieces about how everything will all come crashing down soon — in the blink of an eye, perhaps — because some goofy anon on ZeroHedge says so, I guess. Social Darwinism doesn’t foster conformity; the kind of conformity that this “individualism” thing needs to survive. Instead, it turns into a sophistry game among high verbal-IQ elites. A game of: “Who can make the most convincing rational prognostication about how the current order will inevitably fall, so that people can be on the side of MY new and awesome order that I want to put into place?” Karl Marx, God bless his blackened heart, was a master of this game. And he loved Darwin and recommended him to everyone.

    Morality can’t come from the place of classical liberalism anymore. It can’t come from observing how nature works and then saying, “Let’s formalize this.” It will always fail on those terms because classical liberalism is failing. It fails especially now, as the current intellectual elites are fully starting to realize that understanding the scientific method means always having to place oneself in a position of uncertainty. A moral order cannot stem from observations about the rational order of nature, which must always be up for debate in order to be taken seriously. The morality that binds people together has to come from a place of irrational sureness, and we do not have that.


    admin Reply:

    Social Darwinism isn’t an evangelical religion, it’s an explanatory framework.

    Izak Reply:


    Erebus Reply:


    That could be a problem, couldn’t it?

    Darwinism is clearly truthful, it can do a great deal of explaining, and it’s extremely broadly applicable. But not many people can look upon the unvarnished truth with clear eyes. Not without quickly averting their gaze.

    The problem may simply be that Darwinism frightens people. It doesn’t console them; it can give them no solace. Those whom it doesn’t terrify still find it unsatisfying. Yet mankind has certain metaphysical needs, and these needs “absolutely demand satisfaction”, as Schopenhauer put it. And, as Izak noted, functional societies must also have a common morality.

    …Neither can be derived from Darwinism. But this satisfaction, and a common morality, don’t need to come in the form of something like Catholicism. It could (probably should) be transhumanist techno-transcendentalism. If there’s a Hammurabi, it could be the Code of Hammurabi. It could be even less substantial than that.

    In pre-war Imperial Japan, the Emperor’s personality-cult was something very few people took entirely seriously as such; that the Emperor was “a deity” was generally understood as allegory. The Emperor was the avatar and totem of the Japanese ethno-state — the line of succession had been unbroken for countless centuries; long before the birth of the modern Japanese nation, the Tennō system was already at the heart of their cultural life. Surely this was no true metaphysical religion, yet it was enough to bind a nation and breathe fire into it, so that this nation became capable of the greatest heroism, the most terrible atrocities, and so that its best men would rather have the nation fight to the last man, “shatter like a jewel,” rather than surrender. That’s irrational sureness, to say the least.

    Religio alone is capable of inspiring such things. Religion, properly used, is even more capable. But without religion, and without religio, without a common morality, without even a common ethnicity, can we use the word “society” at all? The metaphysical needs of our people are not satisfied. There is no moral code. There is no shared history or culture. People seek solace in the hedonism peddled by existentialists, or in the repulsive cults of Climate Change and Social Justice… And what then?

    Darwinism may suffice for the likes of us, if only as an explanatory mechanism… but it seems as though society requires more.

    Dark Psy-Ops Reply:

    Morality is downstream from Darwin, so no moral order transcends evo-psych. Moralists will generally deny this, and tell you that Darwinist materialism is profanation, which, lacking a ‘noble lie’, will fail to placate the guileless masses. Except, we can see how a materialist morality like New Atheism or Rationalism can suffice to console and comfort millions of people. And even though New Atheists are Darwinist, they’re not (ideological) ‘right-wing Social Darwinist’ by a long shot, yet they at least they have the balls to criticize Islam. Still, I’d suspect a society with strong laws could function well with a lot of religious, ideological, and ethnic diversity, unless pluralism truly is a recipe for disaster, and civility cannot cross the slightest threshold of alterity. Can Christians and New Atheists manage to live together without total war breaking loose? It’d be a sorry sight if not. Yet, we know from Moldbug that those religions are far more closely related than they’d like to admit, which is one reason for the animosity between them. Still, NRx is pro-secession. so there’s no point forcing a society where there isn’t one. We’ll find out if it is a vital necessity to live in a homogeneous community if and when heterogeneous and diverse societies tear themselves apart. Perhaps diversity will always lead to conflict and miscegenation (‘melting pot politics’), or maybe general population decline only makes it seem that way. Ethnic homogeneity could be beneficial, and I’m aware no one especially wants to live near blacks or Muslims, but then, put a bunch of modern ethnocentric Europeans together and watch the socialism grow… Plus, without anti-discrimination laws, forced desegregation, or other symptoms of democracy ‘the other’ would become a much less urgent political threat. (We still have the Pacific Rim for examples of functional globalism.) I’d only want to be wary of correcting too far against the progressives and winding up in some puritanical anti-puritanism. I mean, it doesn’t matter so much what religious morality your neighbors swear by when you’re a nihilistic, corrosive individualist. Sure, you’d probably prefer if your neighbors were also cold Gnonologists, but if the world gave us everything we wanted there’d be no use for the concept of Gnon at all.

    I see it this way, if Darwinism can suffice ‘for the likes of us’ and we’re not too interested in those who aren’t like us, and don’t like us, then what’s the point in coming up with some marvelous new bullshit myth to seduce ‘the other’ into our moral order, why not live with the truth and welcome those who can accept it? Why must we regress to a lesser morality simply because Gnon isn’t popular?

    Also, I don’t recall existentialists ‘peddling hedonism’? Melville, Shestov, Buber, Heidegger, none of these guys were anything but critical of hedonism. If anything, it is closer to a despair of ever satisfying our metaphysical demands, which then becomes a quest for an irrational escape outside the utility of reason, in an attempt to break through the self-evident walls of our perception.

    Erebus Reply:

    >I see it this way, if Darwinism can suffice ‘for the likes of us’ and we’re not too interested in those who aren’t like us, and don’t like us, then what’s the point in coming up with some marvelous new bullshit myth to seduce ‘the other’ into our moral order, why not live with the truth and welcome those who can accept it? Why must we regress to a lesser morality simply because Gnon isn’t popular?

    That echoes the position of Philalethes — which is that the state must align itself with philosophical truth, and that artificial “lesser moralities”, such as religion, are like “a wooden leg which takes the place of the real one.” Demopheles, in my estimation the wiser of the two, knows that no society can shoulder such a terrible burden. “A wooden leg is of great value to those who have no natural leg.”

    There’s no need for anybody to regress, as the truth shall remain there for all who seek it. There’s nothing anybody can do to hide it. Gnon’s laws, insofar as we can identify them, are ubiquitous. But Gnonologists are rare; most men don’t bother to seek the truth; many wouldn’t be able to bear thinking about such things. These lesser men absolutely require an interpretation of life — they are incapable of forming their own. These men “must first of all learn to kneel, to venerate, and to obey”.

    Gnon loves stable forms. A religion, religio, a king or emperor, a totem, a grand destiny to strive towards… all great and stable societies must have at least one of these things. Individualism/collectivism seems largely meaningless in comparison. Anglophone individualists once had most if not all of those things, now they have none. No religion, no common morality or meaningful traditions, no king, no powerful symbolism, no destiny. This leaves us with what? Decadence and decay, solely? A meta-stable state which will adopt Islam at the first opportunity?

    Anyhow, when I say “existentialists”, I think of the pop-existentialists — Sartre, in particular. Not only is hedonism the logical extension of his philosophy, he lived his own life as a hedonist. And I thought that Shestov was a religious man, wasn’t he?

    (Aside, from the dialog: “Philalethes: […] the truth of the Catholic dogma is perfectly clear to the clergy of South Germany, the Protestant to the clergy of North Germany. If, therefore, these convictions rest on objective reasons, these reasons must be climatic and thrive like plants, some only here, some only there. The masses everywhere, however, accept on trust and faith the convictions of those who are locally convinced.”
    Demopheles: “That doesn’t matter, for essentially it makes no difference. For instance, Protestantism in reality is more suited to the north, Catholicism to the south.”
    Philalethes: “So it appears. Still, I take a higher point of view, and have before me a more important object, namely, the progress of the knowledge of truth among the human race…”
    Coincidentally, HBD Chick just wrote about the North-South divide in Germany.)

    Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 5:36 am Reply | Quote
  • georgesdelatour Says:

    All these wars were won by the side which had geography on its side. It’s even true of the English Civil War: throughout the war Parliament always controlled the most geographically valuable bits of England.


    Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 8:32 am Reply | Quote
  • Mark Christensen Says:

    If we’re going to parse the idea of individualism, the relevant fact here is that the societies we are discussing allow freer cooperation. The aversion to working with those outside your family is what undermines clan-based societies and favours societies with free cooperation. Can’t cooperate with people who aren’t in the family without great suspicion.

    That means that in war, societies with freer cooperation will find that competent people are already around when the time for flags and propaganda actually comes. Napoleon used the rhetoric of the Revolution and the Empire, but his was meritocratic in his promotions. Protestants care less about who is whose uncle than Catholics. Etc. (As an aside, I second those pointing out that the USSR played a major role in WWII. Massively expandable human resources and a Russian winter can beat even German individualist advantages under the right conditions, like a two-front quagmire war.)

    So what about those “tribal entryists”? They benefit from free cooperation as much as anyone. What we have in modern Western societies is a culture where you are not allowed to publicly state that certain people are, in fact, cooperating. If I live in a town full of Sun worshippers, and suddenly a group of Moon worshippers comes to live there, you can bet I’ll take note if the Moon worshippers are cooperating: hiring each other, promoting each other, giving each other special discounts. I might start wondering if, for example, they are more loyal to fellow Moon worshippers over in Lunarville than to our community here in Suntown. I might start freely cooperating with other Sun worshippers to exclude these insular outsiders. Of course, this is bad for the Moon worshippers. What to do?

    Simple: deny that any such cooperation is occurring. In fact, we Sun-worshippers are bad people for noticing the cooperation which the Moon-worshippers are engaging in. Fortunately for them, the Moon worshippers seem to be good with communication and they have a lot of media power. So there is a campaign to make calling out Moon-worshipper cooperation low-status and evil. Hell, it’s positively un-solar. Sun-worshippers start punishing each other for pointing out the Moon-worshippers’ cooperation and their problem is solved.

    So the appropriate response: once a tribal group is in your midst, attempts to punish “noticing” should themselves be punished. And free cooperation in response to these tribal entryists must run its course.


    Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 8:37 am Reply | Quote
  • 0987654321 Says:

    Your argument does not follow. Your short list can very well be an example of a transient. Here’s a trivial counter: social, and more so, among them, eusocial and proto-eusocial species dominate the biosphere.


    Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 10:05 am Reply | Quote
  • 0987654321 Says:

    Your short list can very well be an example of a transient <- Of course, assuming, charitably, that it is not an example of nothing, since you did not extricate "individualism", its degree of expression, or why it would be a common (or decisive) factor in your list.


    Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 10:12 am Reply | Quote
  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    It is a mistake to allow some unknown writer from TRS to frame this discussion on behalf of neoreaction. “Individualism” is not, I think, an axis of anything.

    The actual thing we’re talking about is the gradient of trust in a society along an axis (or axes) of real (or perceived) “nearness”. And in the short to medium term, a particular society’s gradient is pretty much fixed by genetics and the general stickiness of culture.

    The question then for neoreaction: What is the optimal gradient of social trust? The answer is: We don’t know. And in fact, the optimum probably varies according to any particular people. The gnonic answer is: We shall see.

    But we do know some answers are obviously wrong:

    A) Super-steep gradient: extreme trust of blood relatives, extreme mistrust of everyone else. See stone age tribes.

    B) Super-flat gradient: everyone in the whole gol-derned world is just so wonderful, So welcome them in.

    C) Slightly less super-flat gradient: everyone in the whole gol-derned world who matches certain phenotypic traits is just so wonderful. Welcome them in.

    While coming up with a right answer, it is important that we avoid obviously wrong ones. But “individualism” doesn’t seem to factor into the calculations at all.


    Izak Reply:

    I should give the admin some credit here.

    He likes binaries a lot. I’ve noticed this. He has a reflexively negative attitude to people who say, “We really ought to deconstruct this binary….” and I find that pretty refreshing, because the former kind of mentality leads to very bad theories, and you can read a whole bunch of them in academia.

    But for all of that, I think that “individualism versus collectivism” is one of those binaries that doesn’t say much.


    admin Reply:

    Differential individualism is a quite definite Anglophone (and more generally NW European) ethnic peculiarity. Until persuaded otherwise, it seems to me that the attempt to wriggle off that empirical hook is driven by dubious ulterior motives.

    As for the representational value of the TRS piece — it strikes me as extremely typical. Social Matter, for e.g., throws the same argument around with extraordinary regularity. (I’ll begin collecting samples — fully confident that the pile will soon be gigantic.)


    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    But what does “individualism” even mean? You mean the propensity to get mad enough at tax rates to throw off King George? Of courshe… and just look at those anglophone tax rates today!!

    Anglophonia took over the world and now it’s giving it back. A good chunk of Neoreaction may be seen as little more than snarky commentary upon that fact. Good riddance UN (but we sure could use another King Leopold again).

    Of the twin idols of modernity: Liberty and Equality, certainly the latter is the more reprehensible devil. But the right has been fighting against socialism forever. Often they’ve run to the bedchamber of the Liberty cult. That Social Matter should happen to devote more ink to this other error should not be surprising. (And BTW, we hate commies and want to see them hanged from telegraph poles.)

    Radical individualism, fueled by wealth and divorced from social contraints, is pathological. It’s tumblristas–respect my pronouns–fuck you, Grandma. That is mainly a caricature; but not so much of one that European birthrates are at replacement level.

    Neoreaction advocates, I think, for social constraints. Ideally for rightly calibrated social constraints that maximize social trust which maximizes productivity which minimizes rates of violent death.

    Liberty is not an unalloyed good, but a contingent good purchased only on the back of virtue. Since we are all formalists up in here, let us agree that liberty (e.g., to be an “individual”) is (and only is) a power to look after yourself. It is not a thing that may, or even can, be granted by the state, much less abstract principle. If you cannot buy it, or invent it, or inherit it, you are not free and we will not call you free.

    admin Reply:

    “But what does ‘individualism’ even mean?” — For instance, female marriage choice (and late marriage); the Todd ‘absolute nuclear family’; broad literacy; sanctity of private contract; common law tradition; exceptionally high levels of economic freedom, tolerance of private eccentricities, tinkering … NRx is developing a major problem of not being able to look at any phenomenon for even a split-second before starting to moralize about it. That’s unfortunate, because the opposite was the one thing we used to really do well.

    To then proceed from moral-cultural criticism to the claim that we can’t even think this thing at all is getting into George Orwell nightmare fuel territory. Just because large swathes of NRx have decided they don’t value individualism as much as Anglo traditions have done is no reason to try and render the very notion incomprehensible. Everyone in the world knows what it is — when they’re denouncing it.

    Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 3:52 pm Reply | Quote
  • 4candles Says:

    @Nick B. Steves

    Liberty is not an unalloyed good, but a contingent good purchased only on the back of virtue.

    Are you thinking of this? Can we distinguish between the individualism gained upon the path of virtue(?) and egalitarian individuality? NRx regularly and easily criticizes the latter, perhaps in the process creating a blindspot for the former? Think e.g. Jesus tempted in the desert spinning parables for the yet-to-be-individuated?


    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Among other things, yes. Neocolonial’s was a particularly well-put version of it.

    If I don’t know what individualism is, then I sure as heck don’t know what “egalitarian individuality” is. Sounds like some special tumblrista pleading to do what I want (and have someone else pay the bills). Virtue–i.e., strength–makes one better able to be independent (individual?). I don’t think this is controversial.

    If all admin is saying is that differential out-breeding and external trade not necessarily bad things, then I don’t see a problem with that. But I also don’t see swathes of (official) NRx lined up against the proposition either.


    4candles Reply:

    So summing up this thread we can say NRx is an ideology whereby the self-declared virtuous – sorry, strong – rule over the weak by means of a carefully crafted program of brainwashing or religio, thereby ensuring the 1000 year stability and prosperity of the NRx reich?

    Sounds like a doozy.


    Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 8:21 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    USA (140m people) UK (47m) and USSR (168m) team up against Germany (69m), and they win!

    Because individualism. Right.


    Wade McKenzie Reply:

    And what’s more, the Soviet Union–perhaps the most collectivist enterprise in Western history–did all the heavy lifting in the battle against Germany. Anyone who denies that is either ignorant or obtuse.

    On a side note, however, I happen to take seriously Heidegger’s contention that the USA and the USSR are essentially similar. What matters about each is/was their shared commitment to techno-industrialism, not the ostensible pursuit of “individualism” on the one hand, or “collectivism” on the other.


    SanguineEmpiricist Reply:

    I heard that’s pro-russian propaganda, don’t remember the source, maybe it was Curt.


    Wade McKenzie Reply:

    Not sure to which of my paragraphs you’re referring.

    And just to be clear… Heidegger’s assertion of the essential sameness of the USA and the USSR–by virtue of their shared objective of a highly elaborated techno-industrial social order–was a “pox on both their houses” criticism.

    admin Reply:

    Because alliances just come out of the aether, right? (Weird the way the Anglos somehow always seem to have a winning coalition lined up — just lucky I guess.)

    Why did the US get the a-bomb first? That’s also a matter of alliance — at a micro-sociological level. (And also non-random.)


    spandrell Reply:

    Individualism made possible that Roosevelt-Stalin alliance.

    And Individualism made Wilson join the war just in time for the Germans to give up.

    And individualism made Napoleon invade Russia in winter. Ok.

    I’ll give you the Cold War, and yeah the A-bomb as being due to America’s lack of tribalism, but come on. Bismarck knew something about geopolitics, and the fact that the US has by far the best real estate on this planet, and that Russia is very cold and hard to defend has more explanatory power than “individualism”, whatever that means.

    If anything the raving collectivists of Nazi Germany beat the individualist bon-vivants of France to a pulp in weeks.

    Devalier owned this thread.


    admin Reply:

    You’re muddying the point, by divorcing from the original context: “The problem is that if you put two groups one against another, the one who is best able to work together will overcome the group of individualists.”

    Hurlock sees the non sequitur most clearly: “Individualists are simply better that everyone else at working together.”

    Devalier also muddies the water. Of course, “Humans are social creatures”. ‘Individualism’ is not a metaphysical absolute, but a differential, and everyone knows — when the sophism is shelved — that it peculiarly characterizes Anglophone societies. Slavs are collectivists. That doesn’t mean they’re bees, or termites. It means they have (Emmanuel Todd) “exogamous community family” kinship patterns, and an intractable cultural bias against liberal institutions. Whether people think this is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing, it’s a thing. Unless there’s some reason why HBD doesn’t differentiate along the individualism-collectivism axis, I’m not seeing why it’s even a remotely controversial thing.

    Posted on November 7th, 2015 at 4:40 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Germans were and are plenty good at working together. By any meaningful use of the word, “individualism” is as much a characteristic of German society as it is of British society. Germans are just as fair, non-tribal as Brits are, the Nazi anti-Jew thing being a rather punctual exception.

    So putting WW1 and WW2 there as the triumphs of individualism is simply specious. Hitler didn’t lose because he was tribal;he lost because he picked a fight with the two (!) largest and most productive nations on Earth, one of which was quite the definition of collectivism. Yet they still beat the Germans, because there were more, and nastier, and their land was flatter and colder.

    You wanna use the individualism-collectivism axis to explain why Britain is richer than Bulgaria, well sure. To explain why English speaking people got hold of that paradise of resources that is North America. OK, I’ll give you that. But those particular war examples are stupid.

    At any rate one could make the argument that individualism as a model, successful as it was, is well beyond the point of diminishing returns, if only for demographic reasons. In a post-industrial economy, individualist societies, which today are de facto include all the developed world, don’t reproduce themselves. So something’s gotta give.


    admin Reply:

    You’re not seriously suggesting that Germany under the NSDAP was as ‘libertarian’ as the Anglo powers? Because, unless you are, I don’t see how these remarks are addressing the basic contention here at all. If the Germans are comparatively individualistic viz the Slavs (yes, they are) then it only makes the crucial point stronger.

    To recap: Unless it is persuasively demonstrated that differential individualism is some kind of crippling social disability, the argument at stake here simply fails. The rest is just dancing around, and smoke.


    CitizenCoKane Reply:

    It might be helpful if we go back to the “Body politic as body” metaphor that conservatives like Hobbes and Burke were so fond of. There is a reason the metahpor works. Like bodies, societies are complex machines built up from semi-autonomous agents. (It is astounding how ahead of their time these thinkers were without even being aware of cell theory, microbiology, etc.)

    To perpetuate itself, a body or body politic must:
    1. Get its cells (individuals) to work.
    2. Make sure its cells are not working at cross-purposes, but rather in some coherent direction.

    Furthermore, the larger a body or body politic can SUCCESSFULLY scale this up, the more it will be able to perpetuate itself. A strong family is stronger than a strong individual. A strong tribe is stronger than a strong family. A strong nation is stronger than a strong tribe. And (theoretically), a strong humanity is stronger than a strong nation.

    (On the other hand, a weak family full of internecine conflict can be weaker than a single strong individual. A weak humanity full of internecine conflict can be weaker than a strong nation. It is all a matter of what level of scale is practical with the existing signalling, communication, and transport technology. The printing press made strong nations possible. Arguably, the internet could make a strong humanity possible. This assumes, however, that all humans are biologically capable of exercising self-control and internal virtue—for the importance of these, see below. Many NRx-ers would argue, I know, that some humans are much worse at exercising executive self-control than others, in which case they would have to be excluded from a global body-politic).

    Bodies are complex things. In normal, healthy, functional bodies (the only types of bodies that evolution has naturally selected for), the brain (govt.) does not tell every cell individually to do its work. Instead, each cell has its own internal incentives to work, to perform its metabolism, that can merely be modulated by broad directives or stimuli from the central brain (hormones, adrenaline, etc.).

    Natural selection has never demonstrated something like a command economy, at least where the number of cells is far in excess of the Dunbar number (~150). As the number of cells increases, the number of potential interactions increases by 150! (factorial). Beyond something like C. Elegans or a primitive tribe, conscious central control becomes unwieldy.

    So a conscious command economy, whether centrally-commanded, or directed by direct-democratic consensus, is unlikely to work beyond this Dunbar-number of agents. There is just simply no way for either a small brain, or an even smaller individual cell, to model 300 million-factorial interactions to see what everyone needs to do. Each cell can only really look after its own business of 150-ish interactions to be meaningfully effective. So this rules out “conscious control.” If this is what we mean by “extreme collectivism,” then extreme collectivism seems to be dead in the water as a viable model for biological or social bodies above the Dunbar-number. And I think history bears this out.

    On the other hand, successful bodies don’t just allow their constituent cells to compete with each other to the utmost in a ruthless fashion and to work at cross-purposes with each other to an unlimited extent. That is a body with AIDS and cancers. Cancers are cells that have decided to pursue their own self-interest and replication to the detriment of the larger organism. AIDS is the lack of a memetic immune system. AIDS is where cells, instead of responding to the broad directives of the brain (govt.) and its immune system (police), get hijacked by a different control mechanism of some foreign body with its own motives that happen to be mutually-incompatible with the requirements of the larger social organism.

    This corresponds to a pure Ancap/Ultra-Libertarian/Social-Darwinistic society, which is unlikely to thrive either. This is, more and more, what we are actually living in. People look at the Social Justice Warriors, and think that we are living in a society that is too collectivistic. WRONG. The Social Justice Warriors are the memetic virus, attaching themselves to individuals who want some sort of direction, but aren’t getting it. They are “True Believers” (à la Eric Hoffer) who are looking for something to follow. They can see that the way of the cancer (pure, short-sighted selfish hedonism) cannot be a way forward. They see the need for “virtue.” They just happen to get hijacked by the wrong sort of demagogues peddling the wrong sorts of (false) virtues. SJWs are the symptom, not the disease. The disease is, in fact, that we are TOO libertarian in terms of lacking a central guiding motive in life, and thus any sort of internalized correct virtue.

    The strongest bodies are ones where the cells mostly look after themselves and respond mostly to their own internal incentives to work and metabolize, but ALSO have a deeply-internalized (and correctly calibrated) sense of when they are not contributing to the larger health of the body and must commit seppuku (apoptosis) or otherwrise reform their own ways so that they are once again coherent with the rest of the body.

    This is a sort of Protestant “guilt culture” where the cells don’t even need hardly any police (immune system white blood cells) around because cells internally keep themselves broadly in alignment with the needs of the body. To the outside, such bodies will appear to be free of repression and will appear to offer much individual liberty for each cell, but only because each cell exercises its own internal restraint. This is liberty made possible by (correct) virtue.

    This is the extremely successful pre-WWI Anglosphere model, where a society is mostly libertarian. There is little central control of the economy. There aren’t that many police on the streets. The streets feel mostly safe to walk. You can mostly trust your neighbors. All of this is because there is a shared “religio,” a shared sense of common direction that is internalized in children and occasionally reinforced, when needed, through subtle social cues and rituals, and finally only in the last instance by police power when all else has failed. Parasites, cancers, and viruses are not tolerated. They are suppressed when need be. But mostly, they are prevented from arising in the first place through good moral hygiene that cultivates health and virtue in the body politic.

    Yet (and this is important!) the Anglosphere societies did not rely on virtue to shoulder more of the load that it could bear. It did not expect people to become selfless Soviet worker-bees. It still expected people to broadly pursue their own self-interest—just, within certain limits of good taste, custom, and “religio,” where “religio” can be defined as some sense of a transcendent good or meaning to pursue and align one’s behaviors with.

    Then there are “shame cultures” where individuals lack the internal restraint seem in “guilt cultures.” These cultures need lots of police (immune system white blood cells) to catch and clean up after the defectors—the cancers, viruses, and parasites that pop up. These societies would be similar to the Ancap/Ultra-Libertarian/Social-Darwinist societies like ours currently, except there happen to be rulers at the steering wheel (the brain) who know what’s going on and care about the longer-term health of the body politic. So they know that, to combat the lack of internal virtue, repression is required. This is “mild collectivism.” People are still allowed to mostly pursue their own self-interest (they are not micro-managed), but hefty police forces are standing at the ready to deal with the expected defectors. It can work (look at Putin’s Russia, or China currently), but is obviously less effective than a culture with internal virtue. The immune system is constantly taxed. The body is constantly inflamed and dealing with infections. It hobbles along, but survives. But if it gets into a conflict with a healthy body possessing internal virtue—it will lose.

    We can now develop a taxonomy of body politics. From most effective to least effective:

    Libertarian (individual virtue, self-control) – Pre WW1 Anglosphere
    Collectivism (lack of individual virtue, mild central control) – Modern-day Russia, China
    Ultra-Libertarian (lack of individual virtue, no central control, lots of viruses vying for control and peeling off entire organs of the body-politic to come under their control, thus making things feel constrained yet chaotic) – Modern-day U.S.
    Ultra-Collectivism (individual virtue irrelevant/over-ridden, total central control) – Soviet Union

    This explains, I think, why the collectivism in modern-day Russia and China appeal to a lot of NRx-ers. It would clearly be a step-up from our current predicament. But I don’t think it qualifies as the optimal solution. The optimal solution is to re-inculcate internal virtue so that external collectivism is unnecessary and external Libertarianism is possible.

    In order to re-inculcate internal virtue, you need a “religio,” a common understanding of what the transcendent purpose or goal is in life—a set of shared civilizational values.

    I do not think we can go back to Christian religion for this “religio.” Christianity is a cultural kludge whose basic components were clumsily sewn together in 325 A.D. at the council of Nicaea. And, with all respect to tradition, and with all the humility in the world, I think we can still boldly state that humankind has learned a thing or two since then about both the way the natural world works and the way human beings work and thrive best.

    In other words, we need a new religio that:
    1. Does not make claims contrary to things firmly established as human knowledge thanks to the Scientific Method.
    2. Imports the updated lessons of the last 2000 years WITHOUT also importing the social-engineering hubris that this means that we automatically know ALL THE ANSWERS and can engineer the PERFECT NEW SOVIET MAN with the right “religio.”

    I believe that the primary task of NRx currently should be to construct this new “religio.” Anyone else onboard with this?


    admin Reply:

    “I believe that the primary task of NRx currently should be to construct this new ‘religio.'” — That doesn’t sound preposterously hubristic to you?

    Warg Franklin Reply:

    This whole thing is my model as well. Very well said. I wish to subscribe to your newsletter and/or otherwise get in touch and collaborate. Do you have a blog? My email is

    I don’t know why admin is suddenly so averse to ambitious political engineering projects. If we’re not going to put this stuff into practice, why are we even here?

    Erebus Reply:


    Brilliant stuff. I agree completely — and certainly couldn’t have said it better myself.

    CitizenCoKane Reply:

    Hi, sorry, I don’t have a blog or a newsletter. I just write random comments as the inspiration comes to me.

    Speaking of which, here’s one more thought I had: competition can be good or bad. There are too many generalities made about competition.

    There are two different types of competition: sportsmanlike competition, and competition to the death. Sportsmanlike competition is meant to reward and encourage excellence within the in-group. Competition to the death is meant to cull actively detrimental out-group opponents.

    Examples of sportsmanlike competition:
    *The best football team wins the game. The losers lose a bit of prestige and have to do 50 extra push-ups the next day at practice. (But we don’t execute the losers, because that would only weaken our in-group. The losers are still a net-positive to society).
    *May the best company profit the most. The losers go out of business and now have to work for the winning owners who know how to run a business (but the losers do not starve, because we don’t let that happen to our in-group! That would weaken us!)

    Examples of competition to the death:
    *May the Red Army (out-group) perish beneath the boots of the Wehrmacht.
    *May our scientists outwit common parasite/virus/disease X and come up with a cure to eradicate it.

    There might be times when a society would want to limit competition to the death within the in-group. That doesn’t mean that they are anti-competition, or that a certain type of sportsmanlike competition within the in-group can do no good.

    Posted on November 7th, 2015 at 3:53 pm Reply | Quote
  • Izak Says:

    @ Dark Psy-Ops

    “Morality is downstream from Darwin, so no moral order transcends evo-psych. Moralists will generally deny this, and tell you that Darwinist materialism is profanation, which, lacking a ‘noble lie’, will fail to placate the guileless masses. Except, we can see how a materialist morality like New Atheism or Rationalism can suffice to console and comfort millions of people.”

    Except that New Atheism and Rationalism are only so effective because they have a bunch of baggage that has nothing to do the basic goal of one’s existence on this planet according to the precepts of evolutionary theory. They have a romantic view of the world, an irrational one. That’s where their power comes from. Not their ability to understand things soberly.

    I’m having trouble figuring out what “no moral order transcends evo-psych” is even supposed to mean. The vast majority of effective moral prescriptions throughout history have not been consciously connected to evolutionary psychology whatsoever. In fact, “the survival of our group” in the most successful groups has always been a secondary goal. Appeasing God has been the primary goal.

    Let me try to explain the basic conflict between our thinking here. You seem to be saying, “Ah, everything moral is either compatible with Darwinian theory, in which case the people will win, or it’s incompatible with the theory, in which case they’ll die out!” We obviously haven’t figured out the theory yet, but fine. I can grant you that the laws of nature must be respected in order for a group to survive. Absolutely. But then your conclusion is (or seems to be), “Therefore, Darwinian theory must be the correct basis of all moral order!”

    I have two problems with this.

    First, you have not demonstrated that consciously and conspicuously programming a moral order based on Darwin is even slightly effective. Being compatible with something is not the same as emanating from it. Where are the historical examples of anyone saying, “A moth survives if it does X in such-and-such environment, therefore it’s more moral for us to do the same”? No one, not even the top intellectuals, can fully commit themselves to Darwinian theory as the basis for seeing the world. It’s appropriate that you specifically cited evolutionary psychology, a field of discipline whose opinions fluctuate more often than I change my bed sheets, as your Gold standard. How can something so flimsy be treated as rock solid? No scientific way of understanding the world can ever be certain. The very way we conduct science guarantees that as a sacrosanct condition. Morality, on the other hand, has to be 100% certain in order to work correctly.

    My second problem is, I’m not even sure you believe in your own claims. Having a high GDP has nothing whatsoever to do with Darwinian theory. None of the wars the admin cited in his OP were wars of existential importance. None. A bunch of them were about independence and control, but most were fought for the survival of X religious view, or X idea of the state, or whatever. We do not “select” for religious views or forms of government. Winning these wars, from an evolutionary lens, was just as consequential as losing them. Did the English royalists die out? Their ideology did, fine, but their genetic stock?

    How about having a bunch of money? High GDP? Is that more aligned with what Darwinian theory says we need in order to survive? I’m not seeing it. If you can explain to me why worldly possessions, social domination, power, etc. have anything to do with passing on offspring and provide me with real examples in human societies, I might be persuaded. But as of now, you seem to think that the highest possible amount of what humans instinctively value is necessary for their survival. Humans instinctively want power, in an abstract sense, and Anglos can get it. Lots of it. Humans also want high caloric foods, but since when was morbid obesity a sign of fitness?

    I suppose you could say, “Ah, but we Anglo individualists will develop AI and then spread our legacy all over outer space!” or something like that. Well…. Hmm, I’ve seen some cute animated gifs of some new robots trying to kick over a soccer ball and then falling over. That’s kind of neat, I guess, but it seems to me that we’re at least a century or more away from AI, if it’s even possible. The robots we have now are pretty “smart,” in the way that my old cat was “smart” when he would put his paw up to a doorknob, or whatever. So I’m not really convinced that IQ or individualism are traits of evolutionary fitness. They’re traits that can give a race some “fuck you” money and prestige, that’s about it.

    I might also point out that living like an African, in Africa, guarantees babies. They’re doing pretty good at making babies, better than native European whites. So are the Amish compared to the rest of whites. Having a wicked startup company and sick internet speed is no accomplishment whatsoever, according to what Darwin says. Are you converting to the Mennonite church any time soon? No? Are you into start-ups and tech culture? Stuff like that? Yes? Then you’re in a group of people with less fertility. If you really wanna be a good evolutionist, I’d suggest you start to learn the time-honored art of barn-raising.


    CitizenCoKane Reply:

    I’m sorry, but I really do not understand the fascination among some NRx’ers with their genes.

    You are not your genes. I mean, you can identify with your genes if you want to. You can feel warm and fuzzy on your deathbed knowing that your genes are being passed on, if that’s what you choose to care about.

    But there is no magical afterlife where you are rewarded for having passed on more of your genes. The man who doesn’t pass on a single gene of his will die just as happily (assuming that he doesn’t really care about his genes in the first place) and experience just as much non-existence in the afterlife as you.

    Your genes want you to care about passing them on. They have engineered proxies for gene-propogation (sex) to be pleasurable. Good for them. I still don’t see why I can’t just take the proxies and run. (“Thanks for the pleasurable sex, genes! Oh wait, you want me to follow-through and raise a child too? Oh, well…it would have been advantageous for you to have engineered that proxy to be pleasurable for me too. But you didn’t (not that it’s your fault. There was no way of you foreseeing that I would be outside of my ancestral environment where suddenly child rearing would be a huge pain in the butt requiring some more counter-acting pleasure to motivate me to do it…not that whose “fault” it is really matters for any of this), so you, mr. gene, are going to be naturally-selected against as I refrain from actually raising any children. So sorry!”)

    Would humanity die off if everyone thought like me? Yes. Do I care? No, for two reasons:
    1. I will be dead when the die-off culminates, and so I won’t be around to care.
    2. Everyone doesn’t think like me. We are not experiencing a planetary baby shortage right now. Humanity will continue just fine without me. So even if I do care about Humanity, it will be okay without the participation of people like me. If this situation changes (everyone else starts refraining from child-rearing), I might change my thinking on this, assuming I care about Humanity in the first place.

    If everyone thought like me, would my “civilization” die off? Maybe. It depends on the extent to which it is innate genes or acquired culture that is keeping my civilization going. We can debate the extent of those. But do I care in the first place? Hard to say because:
    1. I will be dead when my civilization dies off, and so I won’t be around to care.
    2. What is special about a civilization that requires me to have religious, transcendental reverence of it? It is a complex machine. Pretty cool. My brain has been naturally-selected to enjoy the novelty of complex stuff. My brain has also been naturally-selected to enjoy other things even more. So if there’s a trade-off between preserving my civilization and pursuing that other stuff, I guess the other stuff wins out.

    I’m not seeing how this brand of NRx justifies itself against the sort of philosophical egoism I’ve outlined above….


    Dark Psy-Ops Reply:

    “You are not your genes.”

    So what are we then?

    “I mean, you can identify with your genes if you want to. You can feel warm and fuzzy on your deathbed knowing that your genes are being passed on, if that’s what you choose to care about.”

    Right, so our children and grandchildren are there to give us a ‘warm and fuzzy feeling’ but they’re ultimately purposeless abstractions? But I guess we’re we’re supposed to prioritize the ‘body politic’ of totally unrelated and foreign communities, because ‘common humanity’?

    So passing on your genes is ‘philosophical egoism’? Oh and having kids is acting like a ‘cancer cell’ I guess? And you’re the guy whose going to come up with a new ‘religio’ for us all are you? Do I cut off my balls now or later, master? What a joke.


    Deogolwulf Reply:

    “You are not your genes.”

    “So what are we then?”

    . . .

    I. Where x is identical to y, whatever is true of x is true of y. [Indiscernibility of identicals.]
    II. I am my genes. [Claim of identity.]
    III. I have legs, often wear trousers, and sometimes even a hat. [Truths.]
    IV. My genes have legs, often wear trousers, and sometimes even a hat. [A conclusion to brighten your day.]

    Warg Franklin Reply:

    >I’m not seeing how this brand of NRx justifies itself against the sort of philosophical egoism I’ve outlined above.

    There is no philosophical basis for disputing these things, because it’s not a matter of philosophical error. Your egoism wants to control more hominids, and offers degeneracy and wireheading to them, and our civilizationism wants to control more hominids and thus the future, and offers them belonging and transcendent purpose. There is no possible debate to be had. We have conflicting interests, and that’s the end of it.

    And let’s be clear, egoism requires the subsidization and good will of the civilizationists. When you come here declaring that you don’t care for our gods and won’t do your part to polish the floor of the temple, and will in fact trample mud on said floor, we are perfectly justified and in fact philosophically compelled to throw you out. As far as we are concerned, every man has a duty to work for the long-term glory of the gods, and we have a duty to not subsidize those who defect against this arrangement.

    It’s not an error you have made, its simply that you have declared yourself to be an enemy of our gods. This pattern has been somewhat successful in recent history because traditional religions have lost the balls to throw defectors out. Hence their death.


    CitizenCoKane Reply:

    Here, we are in agreement. Philosophical egoism is likely to “degenerate” into a last generation of wireheaded humans, and then extinction. From the standpoint of a wireheaded human, there is nothing wrong with this.

    You have chosen your values, I have chosen mine, and never the twain shall meet.

    Still, NRx-ers, be aware that you have made a choice to value your genes, your family, your race, your culture, your civilization…and all of these choices were founded upon the same evolutionary and circumstantial caprice as my choice of wireheading. These things give you pleasure, whether you want to call it that or not (admitting that you chase your own brand of “pleasure” would be low-status, so for signalling purposes you will claim that your callings are of a higher sort, when in reality your choices to value these “higher” callings are also the products of your evolutionary molecular machinery just as much as any other choice of values). The NRx presumption that their values are higher amuses me, nothing more.

    Some values will self-replicate. Others will self-destruct. Your self-replicating genes have convinced you that self-replication is better than self-destruction. How surprising! My self-replicating genes are dysfunctional as self-replicators…but perfectly functional as pleasure delivery mechanisms for my ego. My genes will cease. Yours will continue. I have no problem with that. My genes will have served me well while they lasted. Why should I care whether they go on to serve others?

    (By the way, I should clarify that I have been playing the devil’s advocate all along with this egoistic through process. I wanted to see what sorts of rebuttals intelligent NRx-ers could come up with against this, beyond “Get a girlfriend, nihilistic libtard!” Because this philosophy, or slightly less extreme versions of it, are going to be what NRx will have to come up against a lot in the years ahead as it struggles against the now-dominant liberal worldview).

    Izak Reply:

    I can’t really agree with your position, because I’m far too neurotic of a man to “take the easy way out” with any kind of satisfaction.

    But I do sympathize with you’re saying. You get what Darwinian evolution is about, and you prefer to end your lineage the way on your own terms, using the rational faculties with which you have been blessed. I also sympathize with the Shakers, for similar reasons.

    Does this “Gnon” guy smile upon you and your choices? Apparently not. But then, who would he hold in highest esteem?

    Ah, I know! The sea sponge! Unthinking, unfeeling, yet *surviving.* An ideal patron saint of Gnonology!


    Dark Psy-Ops Reply:


    “No scientific way of understanding the world can ever be certain. The very way we conduct science guarantees that as a sacrosanct condition. Morality, on the other hand, has to be 100% certain in order to work correctly.”

    Ok, any clues as to what this 100% certain morality is? Are we supposed to take it on faith are we?

    “So I’m not really convinced that IQ or individualism are traits of evolutionary fitness. They’re traits that can give a race some “fuck you” money and prestige, that’s about it.”

    Right, because all economic success is really about denigrating other people, and no one could possibly value intelligence, independence, and money for any other reason.

    Group selection is a chimera. Natural selection works on humans as individuals. We inherit our morality, and our religion, and our ‘body politic’, and that’s what I mean by morality being downstream of Darwin. In fact, you didn’t offer any alternate theory for where our intuitions of right and wrong come from, you just did made a lot of non-sequitur remarks. I’ll give two examples:

    “The vast majority of effective moral prescriptions throughout history have not been consciously connected to evolutionary psychology whatsoever.”

    Ok, but that doesn’t make it any less real that our morality and other psychological factors (including preference for individualism or collectivism) have been formed by the evolutionary process.

    “Humans instinctively want power, in an abstract sense, and Anglos can get it. Lots of it. Humans also want high caloric foods, but since when was morbid obesity a sign of fitness?”

    Morbid obesity is an example of a lack of power (self-control). The analogy you’re trying to draw between over-eating and being a powerful evolutionary success makes no sense.

    There’s more, but i’m bored now.


    Izak Reply:

    Me too. Well, that was fun. Here’s to boredom!


    Posted on November 7th, 2015 at 9:02 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Just gotta say that missing a letter doesn’t mean I didn’t say it first.


    Posted on November 8th, 2015 at 4:39 am Reply | Quote
  • Pseudo-chrysostom Says:

    philosophical nominalism so often is a rationalization of conditional nominalism.

    such beings devalidate notions of essence or connexion amongst more disparate elements, because they can hardly conceive of them to begin with.


    Posted on November 9th, 2015 at 3:13 am Reply | Quote
  • Lightning Round – 2015/11/11 | Free Northerner Says:

    […] Corrosive individualism. […]

    Posted on November 11th, 2015 at 6:01 am Reply | Quote
  • SFC Ton Says:

    In the war of Northern Aggression, it was the collectivist that won


    admin Reply:

    Spirited, but I think incorrect. 19th century Yankees were the world’s most extreme individualist tribe. (You only have to look at today’s paleo-reactionaries and their defense of organic sociality against liberal ‘atomization’ to pick up the thread. 20th century libertarian adoption of the Confederate cause muddies the waters.)


    SanguineEmpiricist Reply:

    As if a case couldn’t be built against the south anyways.


    Posted on November 13th, 2015 at 3:22 am Reply | Quote
  • unknown128 Says:

    Ok lets look more closley shall we?

    War of Spanish sucsession: Authoritarian austria + german states do most of the fighting UK is mostly active as a seapower

    seven years war: authoritarian Prussia does most of the fighting UK wins at sea and against small french garrisons in the colonies

    American War of Independence: the colonists were losing and it was (authoritarian) france and Spain that saved them.

    Napoleonic wars: Russia+Prussia+Austria do most of the fighting the british are involved at a side theater in spain and again at sea.

    First World War. This is the first in which liberal states actualy do most of the fighting, but even here France would have been overrun without Russia binding 25-40% of german 60-80% of Austro-Hungerian and 50-70% of ottoman troops over the first 3 years of the war.

    Second World War: Well here its totalitarian USSr that did 80% of the fighting (check Rüdiger Overmans for german casualties per front) and I realy doubt that the USA and UK would have had the resiliance and strength to defeat the Germans on their own (USA clearly had the manpower and industry but I doubt they would have been ok with losing 3-4 million soldiers necesary to defeat the germans without the soviets).

    Thus as we can see “protestant individualists” won most of this war by being good at 2 things 1.sea power and 2.making other authoritarian powers to do the actual fighting.

    Besides there are cases in which more individualist states lost to less individualist once for instance: franco Prussian war or the great northern war in which Protestant and constitutional Sweden lost to semi barbaric russia.


    admin Reply:

    That point is already explicitly stated in the post.


    unknown128 Reply:

    Fact is though that England was located on an island and thus had the luxuary to sit back under the defence of the sea and pit up powers against each other ensuring to be on the wining side. Now there was another individualist protestant country no less individualist and protestant then England (if not more), the netherlands which was so unluckly to be located on the continent….And it was defeated and even conquered quiet often…..

    USA is located in an even better geographic position……1 on 1 Germany could have propably crushed the USA in WW2….had it been located close to the USA.

    I think there is a reason why individualist sdocieties are so sucsessful only if protected by geography. Some militaristic collectivism (ala Prussia) indeed is better at the actual fighting. In WW1 Germany held out against just about the combined world and clearly showed qualitative superiority over all of its enemies. Same in WW2.

    fact is that Germany maneged to create the most sucsessful military in the history of the world. So militaristic collectivism is good for some things……capitalist indivisualism good for others. That the last won in the end has as much to do with geography and simple luck as with actual superiority.


    admin Reply:

    Germany is comparatively individualistic (just not quite up to the Anglo-Dutch level). Lots of Protestantism, obviously, plus it’s safely tucked on the outbreeder side of the Hajnal Line. Dominant family structure (‘Authoritarian’ in the Todd schema) is counter-communistic, if not quite positively catalytic for liberalism. Degree of industrial and scientific activity, with high-levels of capitalistic social ‘mechanization’ (vs organicism) are clear indices.

    Posted on November 13th, 2015 at 6:21 pm Reply | Quote
  • unknown128 Says:


    Agreed and I should say that some form of individualism has proven to be very profitable in the last few centuries. All contenders for world dominance in the last great conflicts were more individualistic then the human averege thats for sure, even among communist countries the most powerfull (USSR) was also the most individualistic (more so then Maos China for instance), even Japan and now China became more individualistic with their modernisation. Still the question is what balance between individualism and collectivism guarantees the optimal amount of power in what fields. I would say that the balance is different for different things. When it comes to military power the modern west would be unable to sustain the mass mobilisation and mass deaths necesary to win a total war against a strong rival (as it was willing in WW1 but allready less then willing in WW2). Acording to surveys in the middle east 70% of the men declare themselves willing to defend their countries if attacked, In russia its 60%, in the USA its 44% (we all know in which parts of the country this people live), in western Europe its 25%, in germany 18% and only 11% in Japan!

    But when it comes to sciense and economic power the hyperindividualist nations of the modern world still do quiet fine…..Then again between 1870 and 1945 the greatest scientific power in the world was Germany with the USA getting very few nobel prizes. I would say that the move towards more individualism in the west was of benifit for some time but after a while it just became too much individualism and the harm started to outweigh the benifits when it comes to darwinian fitness.

    Then again maybe the modern western cult of pleasure will infect China and bring it down in a violent revolution of its young generation against the “opressive regime” that wants them to work towards national greatness instead of their own pleasure and China will fall before it will be able to become strong enough to smash the west.

    I think the modern western elites more or less believe that they dont need to fight large wars because their ideas will infect their enemies and render them harmless before said enemies can raise their weapons to strike. If everyone can be made into an emasculated, hyperindividualistic pleasure seeking bonobo, darwinian competition might be removed from the picture….Still I wouldnt bet my money on this working, it certainly didnt work with the germans in the 1920s.


    unknown128 Reply:

    In my opinion germany around 1913 was a more effeicient society when it comes to the creation and aplication of power then either the UK or the USA despite being less individualist. It has surpassed the Uk bouth in economic and scientific output. It just didnt profit from having such vast territory as the Anglos had for settlement and use (which they ofcourse gained by being more effecient before that and due to geographic adventages). The diplomatic failures that led to Germany being put against the rest of the world are the failures of the individuals that led germany at the time and dont say anything about Germanys strength as a society.

    There are many reasons for Germanys sucsess back then but a very strong culture of duty and loyalty towards the nation and once hirarchy was one of them as well as an interesting mix between capitalist flexibility, quiet a lot of meritocracy (in the military more then in the UK) and at the same time a strong reverence for hirarchy.

    Thus I would say that there is such a thing as “too much individualism”


    Posted on November 14th, 2015 at 6:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction (2015/11/15) | The Reactivity Place Says:

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    Posted on November 17th, 2015 at 10:10 pm Reply | Quote
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    […] Corrosive individualism? […]

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  • P. George Stewart Says:

    Thought-provoking subject. I think the resolution is really quite simple. With commerce, as with technology, as with morality, as with science, it’s all a search for OBJECTIVE (though not intrinsic or absolute) value, utility, good, truth, which is facilitated by multiple parallel experiments, costs/benefits constrained as much as possible to the experimenters, emulation of success, etc.

    IOW, all those things are objective (patterns waiting out there in possibility space), but nobody has a hotline to them (not given or manifest, neither noumenal, nor revelatory, nor via command from a Creator), they have to be DISCOVERED. This is why individualism always wins: because it’s reality-oriented discovery of the objective.

    While I strongly agree with some of the Reactionary analysis, I remain a Progressive at heart, I am of the tribe who wishes to advance, not of the tribe that’s cautious and wants to retain what works. But I’m not hostile to the conservative tribe (as so many of my tribe foolishly is) We’re complementary tribes, both necessary for the search process, but both have “averse” versions. IOW, following Hakey’s tripartite division: these things evolve genetically (mediated by natural selection), memetically (unconscious pattern copying) and ideologically (conscious pattern copying). Both Left and Right get into trouble when they cleave OVERMUCH to instincts (for the Left, to “folk economics” evolved for a hunter-gatherer social milieu, for the Right, to ethnic identification, which has a similar context), when they copy blindly and virtue signal blindly (something both Left and Right are obviously prone to do) or when they get obsessed by “intellectual crack” or baroque confabulation at the level of ideas. The problems of both Conservatism and Progressivism, all their great sins and failures, are caused by some combination of these “averse” versions of themselves.

    The truth is Lockean, not Hobbesian, individualism, and spontaneous social order arising from it, based on objective truth, utility, value, etc., is “KING”, because it allows the social discovery process of the objectively valuable, utile, good, true, etc., and the discovery of the objective is where “authority” (that convinces, that induces consent, use, copying, etc.) comes from; but individualism is helped along by a reasonably strong ethnic (“ant smell”), memetic (virtue-signalling) and ideological (agreement) bonding, to form a basis of trust, without that social bonding basis it dissolves into aimless hedonism (individual search patterns disconnected from each other, forming nothing socially coherent).

    And none of this requires religion, but religion has occasionally been a benign part of the process, as well as sometimes a hindrance. Religion is, as it were, an added extra, at no extra charge, neither necessary nor sufficient to the discovery process, but helpful and useful for some.

    There you go, all relevant problems understood and solved 🙂


    Posted on November 21st, 2015 at 9:37 pm Reply | Quote
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    […] the source of such inhibition is the very society. the social behavior natural to human beings is necessarily repulsive to individuality and categorization. the ancient patterned societies which capitalism displaced were an middle point in the escalation of individualism. human history (and indeed universal history) is the fight of individuals against social structure, and the constant push back of the socius in the wake of very brief victories. […]

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